There is an old stereotype of the typical Australian fast bowler: big, intimidating, intimidating and with a win-at-all-costs mentality.
But Kane Richardson defies this on almost every level. In the flesh, he is warm, soft-spoken and, above all, acutely aware of the bigger picture outside of cricket.
In 2016, Richardson and his partner adopted a vegan diet after being exposed to documentaries about the meat and dairy industries while playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League.
Some wondered if the decision would affect the sailor’s performance on the field. Others mocked his lifestyle choice. But as far as the 31-year-old was concerned, all that was a non-issue.
“I never really thought about whether it would have an impact on my cricket because I didn’t care to be honest,” said Richardson, who played for Birmingham Phoenix in this year’s Hundred tournament.
“It’s my job, but there are bigger things out there in life. I thought ‘I’ll make it – if my body changes, I’ll understand.’ For me it wasn’t about performance.
“Some guys used to go ‘if you’re hungry, you’re going to start eating grass?’, they used to find that kind of funny. Some people still think that’s what dieting is, so it’s funny when he can explain it to them and say no , there’s a lot more that’s available now, and it’s probably getting easier every day.”
So what does a daily meal plan look like for Richardson?
“For breakfast I try and have a tofu omelette, that’s godly – I really dress it up with some sides, avocado on toast. I try to put in as many legumes as I can, so chickpeas, beans, tofu – I really love tofu.” says Richardson.
“Even before I became a vegetarian, I always loved eating tofu and didn’t really like meat, so I probably should have done it when I was a kid! That’s the main thing I base meals around. Then I can dress it up in a sandwich or however I want to have it. But I eat a lot, that’s for sure.”
However, his passion for the environment doesn’t stop at tofu. Years touring the world with Australia and franchise teams opened his eyes to the impact global cricket tournaments can have on the environment.
It’s something he feels strongly about.
“One thing we don’t think about in cricket is the environmental impact it has and the resources it uses,” he adds.
“I get frustrated when we come to a country like the UK and you have beautiful drinking water in a tap but you see guys around the hotel drinking from plastic bottles all the time. I don’t want to be a preacher, but you don’t have to.
“You can buy a bottle and then reuse that bottle all the time. Even the impact that a season of The Hundred has in a month — we have to be better at understanding what impact that has.
“At what point do we realize we have to do something about this? The change has to come from us now. At the hotel, our laundry comes back in plastic sleeves and I say ‘my socks don’t need to be in plastic, they’re socks, I’ll I wear them.” I honestly feel guilty – I love playing cricket but the impact it has – I wish there were ways to do it better.
“Believe it or not, things are changing around us. The channel out the back [of the team hotel], you go for a walk and all you see are plastic bottles in there. They don’t just disappear and go to some holy place, they go into the water, it’s never as simple as direct recycling.
“We all need to start thinking like this because it has a very big impact on everything around us. I have a two-year-old at home, so from there I start thinking, “we can’t be selfish here.” We have to leave something to our children.”
Richardson, who is currently representing Australia in the T20 World Cup at home, has some hopes for the future.
“There are good people who try to help certain causes,” he smiles. “I know at Edgbaston there are no water bottles in the changing rooms for the players to drink from, only reusable cups.”
“A lot of the guys I talk to say, ‘I’d like to go vegan, but I couldn’t cut out the fish or I couldn’t cut out the cheese.'” how is it going for you
“Any small change will help the animals, the environment – basically everyone in a more sustainable world.”