Australia’s vegetarian fast bowler Peter Siddle has chewed up and spat out the suggestion that the absence of meat from his diet was the reason he was unable to recover from his Adelaide exertions in time to play in the pivotal Perth Test against South Africa. As he prepared to resume as the leader of the hosts’ attack in the Test series against Sri Lanka, starting in Hobart on Friday, Siddle flatly rejected the view – proffered by Dennis Lillee, among others – that meat was essential to the diet of a fast bowler. Siddle backed up his rebuttal with the correct observation that his ability to maintain high pace and accuracy for long periods has in fact been helped by the lifestyle change, which he made earlier this year. “I struggled to bowl over 50 overs [before becoming vegetarian] so, to bowl 64, I think that’s an improvement,” Siddle said at Bellerive Oval. “So I’m probably in a better place than I ever was. For people to say that’s the problem and that’s the reason why [I withdrew], they’re the ones kidding themselves. They’re not the ones out there having to do it and having to go through it. To still be bowling 140 kmph in my 64th over at the end of the fifth day in a Test match, that probably shows the improvements.” Siddle’s pre-season admission that he had foresworn meat has been the cause of some mirth among those who harbour cliched views about the dietry habits of fast bowlers, even though he made the change with plenty of support from Cricket Australia’s dieticians and support staff. The team performance manager Pat Howard has previously pointed to the decorated examples of the triathlete Dave Scott, the AFL footballer Brett Kirk and Martina Navratilova’s tennis mastery as examples of vegetarian success in elite sport.