Melbourne: If a fit and primed Victorian fast bowler Peter Siddle slices through England this summer, Australia can thank an Olympic cyclist and the Carlton Football Club in Melbourne for regaining the Ashes.
The fast bowler, who has not played Test cricket since January because of stress fractures in his back, spent almost three months working with Carlton strength and conditioning coach Justin Cordy at the club`s state-of-the-art facilities at Princes Park in Melbourne.
Cordy, who once held that role with Cricket Australia, is mates with Scott McGrory, the Sydney Olympic gold medal cyclist, who organised a bike for Siddle as part of his recovery program, reports The Telegraph.
"It was an easier way for me to get a little bit of fitness work under my belt without putting too much pressure and strain through my spine," Siddle said.
He added: "I hadn`t done a lot of riding before then, but now I`ve got into it I quite enjoy it."
Siddle said he thought he worked pretty hard on his fitness until he saw the Carlton players train.
He was, he says, almost embarrassed into getting properly fit after looking at the difference in shape between his body when he started and those of the footballers.
"My body wasn`t in the right shape early on," admits the 25-year-old, who has taken 60 wickets in 17 Tests. "I sort of got away with it a little bit, then it caught up with me."
Siddle knows that competition for places heading into the first Test in Brisbane from November 25 will be white-hot, with Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson and Doug Bollinger all bowling well in his absence.
However, Bollinger must prove his fitness in Shield cricket over the next three weeks after breaking down in India with a side strain.
After two Sheffield Shield games back, including an impressive performance against Tasmania last week, Siddle says he is fitter and stronger than ever, which has allowed him to sustain his pace during spells later in the day.