The England Performance Programme – including Worcestershire duo Ross Whiteley and Joe Clarke – threw punches instead of balls during their latest workout at Loughborough.
Calling on the expertise of Mat Pickering from Stratford Upon Avon & District Boxing Academy, the gloves were off as the emerging cricketers were put through their paces at the National Cricket Performance Centre.
While working on their fitness, the exercise also allowed the players to see the similarities and differences between cricket and boxing.
The sparring did not prove to be a knockout with some players, though, as Essex batsman Tom Westley joked to ecb.co.uk: “It may have looked like fun, it wasn't necessarily fun!”
The 26-year-old, more comfortable with uppercutting or hooking a ball to the ropes while batting, added: “It was interesting to pick the brains of a top boxer and try to see what skills are transferable.
“He was focused on power, generating from the back hip. We have done a bit of power hitting this morning so it was quite interesting to see the correlation between that and boxing.
“Plus it was a bit of a workout, learning to duck and dive some his punches was good as well.”
Westley had Surrey all-rounder Zafar Ansari, working his way back to full fitness following a thumb injury, and Whiteley in his corner.
“Zafar had one arm so I wouldn't have minded taking him on, but he is still pretty strong,” Westley added.
“Ross, I don't think anyone wants to get in the ring with him. He looked like a boxer before he even got there!
"It was good working on our foot movement, those two are some of the quicker guys in the team so it was good to work with them.”