The lead-up to the Ashes May 19, 2005

Aussies build fitness with sand in their toes

Cricinfo staff

Glenn McGrath is trying different training methods to prepare for England © Getty Images

Jock Campbell, Australia's conditioning coach, believes Australia's stay-at-home Test players will be the fittest for years as they sweat over a sapping pre-Ashes regime. Campbell has the New South Wales-based contingent of Glenn McGrath, Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting, Brett Lee and Brad Haddin pounding up sandhills on Sydney's beaches.

"Working in them is hard aerobic interval training, and good specific leg training without the shock on knees and ankles," Campbell told the Daily Telegraph. "But it's a good mental exercise as well. Running those sandhills is so hard. If you get through a session out there, you can get through most things."

Campbell has already worked with Matthew Hayden on Queensland's Stradbroke Island and McGrath said his legs, heart and lungs were working hard. "In the Mexican wave you go up and over a small one and then up this massive hill," he told the paper. "You do three or four at a time. The four-minute one is up a steep incline all the way. It's good, hard work."

The players are also completing gym and net sessions before they leave for England next month. "I love getting up at six in the morning to go to training," Clarke said. "Training with the boys is great. We are all competitive and push each other to the limit. I go home exhausted."