An Australia team still mourning the tragic death of Phillip Hughes face the biggest mental battle of their careers in playing the first test against India next week, according to former captain Ricky Ponting.
Australia host the first match of the four-Test series in Adelaide from Tuesday, less than a week after batsman Hughes’s funeral, and Ponting said the collective loss of their team mate would far outweigh any personal tragedies players had previously brought into a game.
“None of the things that have happened before compare to what the players are dealing with after Phillip’s death,” Ponting wrote in a column in The Australian newspaper. “We are in uncharted waters and the boys are going to have to dig deeper than they ever have. This will be the biggest mental battle any of them will have encountered, but I have faith they can pull it off. In a perfect world I want to see the team come together and go out there as one, but I understand that some might find it impossible. For cricket’s sake, I hope that they can all do it.”
Ponting, who retired in 2012 after 168 Tests, spoke of playing with a heavy heart after deaths in his own family and said cricket at the highest level was “a job that has to be done no matter what’s going on in your life”.
“Like everyone in the community, cricketers have to show up at work and suck it up when things are rough,” he added. “Your wife or kids can be sick, there might be trouble at home, but too often this can happen when you are on the road and there’s not even the chance to drop in at the end of the day and sort out the mess.”
‘We needed to feel that cricket hurt in our legs’
Adelaide: Getting a grip on things after the Phillip Hughes tragedy, the Australian team practised for the second consecutive day on Saturday and vice-captain Brad Haddin said that they will not look to complicate matters by over thinking about the events of the last two weeks. A couple of days after Hughes’ funeral, the home team finally started preparations for the first Test against India starting December 9 and the seamers were seen bowling a barrage of bouncers in the nets.
“Yesterday was a very good day. We went back to cricket training. As simple as that,” said the 37-year-old wicketkeeper. “We all went back to the game we loved. And it was a good day,” Haddin said ahead of today’s practice session. “We just got back to cricket,” he replied, when asked if the training session felt normal. “We can try to complicate it as much as we want, but we went back to cricket training. Everybody did what he needed to do yesterday. We needed to feel that cricket hurt in our legs again.
“The next two days are about getting back to training. Getting that soreness that you get from miles from out training. From that point of view, the next two days are important to get that feel. On Sunday will be a big cricket day leading into the Test match on Tuesday,” said Haddin.