Plant power fuels Aussie paceman

Australian quick Kane Richardson reveals he's joined Peter Siddle in the ranks of bowling vegetarians

Sam Ferris

7 May 2016, 03:19 PM AEST


Sam Ferris is a Sydney-based journalist for cricket.com.au. He is the host of The Unplayable Podcast and co-creator of the hit web series In Case You Played And Missed It. 

Peter Siddle can no longer claim to be the sole Australian fast bowler fuelled only on flora.

South Australian speedster Kane Richardson, like Siddle, adopted a vegetarian diet with a simple philosophy in mind.

"I didn't want to eat animals," Richardson told cricket.com.au in Bangalore where he's representing IPL franchise the Royal Challengers.

"I challenged myself to stick to it, I guess it's a diet but it's not really a fad, it's something you believe in.

"I've done it for a year and-a-half, two years now but over this pre-season I'll probably challenge myself to go vegan (a person who does not eat or use animal products) and train hard and see if I can do it and perform in four-day cricket.

"The stigma is you've got to eat meat and drink alcohol to bowl fast and we'll see if that's true or not over this pre-season."

Richardson had played one ODI for Australia before turning vegetarian, but the lack of meat in his diet didn't stop him earning a recall to the ODI side in August 2014 and he's played 11 ODIs and three T20 internationals since.

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While he hasn't given up enjoying a beer, Richardson said it was vegetarian Redbacks teammate Adam Zampa who introduced him to the concept about two years ago.

"I remember him (Zampa) telling me once (that he was vegetarian) and I laughed at him and thought 'you can't be serious' but I think it was about six months later when I thought about it longer and harder," Richardson said.

"I'm not sure what it was with him, why he started doing it, but we're pretty big now on treating animals well, against animal cruelty and any kind of work we can do.

"I know Sidds (Peter Siddle) is the same, he's quite big into that.

"He's got a platform in the media and he can try and help the way people treat animals, especially in India, it's quite tough to see."

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Richardson says he hasn't spoken about the switch to Siddle, whose famous consumption of bananas and decision to ditch meat and alcohol sometimes overshadows his excellent Test career among sceptics.

Both pacemen share a love of animals, and the Redbacks quick said his research into the matter unearthed some alarming facts about the rate at which the world is consuming meat.

"I've watched a lot of documentaries on it, and whether it's right or wrong, I don't know if that can be sustained the way people are gorging through food," he said.

"Especially in Australia, we're pretty spoilt with what's available.

"It's just something I thought long and hard about and tried to change and have stuck to it since."

Richardson's decision to trade poultry for plants was also made to help manage the heavy demands a fast-bowler's body endures.

The 25-year-old quick was ruled out of the back-end of the summer with a back stress injury, and has suffered the same issue a number of times in his blossoming career.

"It's just something I had to change with all the injuries that I had," the right-armer said.

"I did a lot of research on it. If it's something that's going to help me play for longer than I'll definitely try it.

"I'll be vegetarian the rest of my life, it's whether I can go full vegan, that's the question."

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Former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie, whose Twitter bio reads in part "Against Animal Cruelty. Plant Power!", coached Richardson at the Strikers in the KFC Big Bash League.

Gillespie, not shy in sharing his dietary beliefs, led the Strikers to a BBL|05 semi-final but didn't get a chance to talk to Richardson about why he went vegan.

"I spoke to him about it the first day he was there I asked him what his reasoning was," Richardson said.

"He said it was a 'long story, I'll tell you over a beer' but we never had that beer. I'll still have to chat to Dizz, maybe this year when he comes out again.

"I don't know whether he did it in his career or not, I'm not sure he did, I think it was post-career.

"It's probably easier as a coach, all you have to do is fling balls at batters.

"I just want to see if I can do it really. That's the challenge, and if I can still bowl fast and cut down on injuries and be a bit leaner it should help me."

Despite being a vegetarian for the past two seasons, Richardson says he still cops some stick from his South Australia teammates.

"I definitely cop it a lot of crap about if in the changerooms from the blokes," he said.

"When we go out to field and I'm standing at point, they ask me if I'm going to start eating the grass or not.

"It's all good fun and something I'll stick to."