What the modern cricketer eats is beginning to dominate this Ashes series. Following the revelations about England’s exotic dietary demands for their players during the Test series – piri-piri breaded tofu has never been more popular – attention has now shifted to Peter Siddle of Australia.
Siddle is the sort of up-and-at-’em, tearaway fast bowler whom you imagine to train on raw red meat while running over a bed of hot coals. The coals may still be a possibility but it turns out he eats 20 bananas a day and is a vegan.
“I live with a plant-based diet now, that’s my lifestyle,” said Siddle, shocking all those who wonder how he can therefore continue to bowl with such venomous fury. “My partner has been a vegan all her life.
“I’ve had a few niggles throughout my career and I did a lot of research about different ways to approaching my cricket and that’s the lifestyle I’ve gone down. I’m feeling fit and strong.”
This is hard to reconcile with Siddle’s background as a hugely promising woodchopper from a family of champion woodchoppers. He takes his bananas in all shapes, sizes and modes and it seems he buys them from the supermarket. He liked the suggestion of having a banana tree in his garden but then realised he was not at home often enough to eat them.
Siddle has become a staple in Australia’s attack. His constant effort is admirable, respected and admired by selectors and fast bowlers alike. Siddle is the sort of fast bowler who runs in all day.
He will for ever be associated with The Gabba, where he became the first Australian bowler to take a hat-trick on the ground against England three years ago. It put Australia on top in the match and it was impossible to tell then that the series would turn irrevocably England’s way when they made 517 for 1 in their second innings.
“It’s a highlight of my career but we play cricket to win Test matches,” Siddle said. Which, as Siddle well knows, is not something Australia have done much of recently, failing to emerge victorious in any of their most recent nine Tests.
“I think our team is a lot stronger,” he said. “We learnt things in England from the way we finished off. It was a disappointing result, we didn’t want to lose 3-0, but we know what we can do differently, we know how to approach it. There are a few things we needed to work on but we have them covered.”
Siddle, who took 17 wickets against England last summer, will be as combative and irrepressible as ever in this Ashes. England will always know of his presence and if words are exchanged – as they will be – it is unlikely that they will be swapping notes on diets. But you never know. A man who eats 20 bananas a day must occasionally long for a pumpkin seed and goji berry bar.