AN arduous pre-season camp in Warrnambool has South Australian batsman Callum Ferguson primed to return to the Australian one-day squad.
Ferguson, 28, is the replacement for injured captain Michael Clarke for the eight-match series against India from October 11 to November 2.
The classy right-hander trained under renowned Warrnambool boxing coach Rodney Ryan for nine days in August in a bid to take him out of his comfort zone.
The camp was a success for both cricketer and trainer.
Ferguson, a batsman who had too often failed to turn starts into big scores, developed the mental steel missing from his game.
Less than two months on, he is part of the 14-man Australian squad captained by George Bailey bound for the sub-continent.
Ryan said he was rapt with the selection.
He said Ferguson arrived as a player willing to do whatever it took to improve his game.
“It wasn’t so much a weight issue for Ferg, it was an out-of-comfort zone scenario, a little bit of a challenge and to do something different,” he said.
“He wanted to change a few things up in his pre-season.”
The trip was the brainchild of new Western Bulldogs and former Carlton fitness coach Justin Cordy, who is friends with Ryan.
Cordy was talking to his South Australian Cricket Association counterpart Dean Woodford and recommended Ferguson head to Warrnambool.
Ryan had already trained Carlton footballer Heath Scotland and Cordy was impressed with the results.
“I didn’t have any pre-conceived ideas about Ferg, other than he was super talented and he needed to find a little bit of an edge through the middle of an innings,” Ryan said.
“He would get to 30 and 40 and didn’t know how to kick on.
“We thought coming here would give him a mental edge when he gets going.”
Ferguson completed three or four boxing sessions a day during his stay, each lasting one hour.
The first would be at 5.30am. He wouldn’t finish the last until at least 7pm.
“To do this off his own bat to a degree shows he’s ready to do what it takes to get to that next level,” Ryan said.
“The other thing I must say is he’s a ripping bloke, an absolute gentleman.
“He fitted into our gym like anyone else, worked his bum off, did everything that was asked of him.”
Ferguson is one of the most capable but under-utilised short-form batsmen in Australia. He averages 41.43 runs and has five half-centuries to his name from 30 one-day internationals.
His rise to the Australian squad comes on the back of a bumper summer for both Australia A and the Redbacks in the Ryobi Cup.