Mourning players may skip first Test
IT'S called Test cricket for a reason. But Australia's cricketers will face the ultimate mental battle before they even set foot on the Adelaide Oval for the first Test against India next week.
As part of a rescheduled series, confirmed by Cricket Australia on Monday night, Adelaide will host the opener next Tuesday, before the second Test is staged in Brisbane from December 17.
Australia's grief-stricken players will attend the funeral of the late Phillip Hughes in his home town of Macksville today, before flying to his adopted city of Adelaide tomorrow afternoon.
CA chief executive James Sutherland told reporters yesterday he believed no one would "think ill" of any player who decided against taking part in the Adelaide Test, which has been brought forward three days, despite them being a part of planning the revised fixture.
"Absolutely it's up to the individual and any player that is not comfortable or doesn't feel right, or there's medical advice to suggest they're not quite right, then we'll obviously understand that and I'm sure the broader public will understand that as well," Sutherland said.
"I'm not going to jump ahead ... but what I can say is we will support the players in the best possible way through this period. Right now there's a funeral ... and that's going to be difficult enough as it is.
"There will be a great temptation for people to speculate about who is going to play and how they're feeling. I'd just encourage everyone to give the players their space and let them in their own way work through that.
"Understand that we and the Australian Cricketers' Association will be supporting them and no one will think ill of anyone who feels uncomfortable about it.
"Test cricket is a different game. It's not just about going out there and playing a game of sport for a couple of hours. You need to go out there and commit to five days. You need to front up day after day after day. It's a big step and it's not just an ordinary sporting match."
While the third Test in Melbourne will begin on its traditional start date of Boxing Day, the fourth match in Sydney has been pushed back to begin on January 6.
"We looked at possibly holding the Brisbane Test in the new year following Sydney, but we felt that would only compromise the (limited-overs) Tri-Series against England and India, which is important preparation for our ICC Cricket World Cup campaign," Sutherland explained.
The tri-nation one-day international series starts on Friday, January 16.
First Test: Tue, Dec 9-Sat, Dec 13, Adelaide
Second Test: Wed, Dec 17-Sun, Dec 21, Brisbane
Third Test: Fri, Dec 26 -Tue, Dec 30, Melbourne
Fourth Test: Tue, Jan 6-Sat Jan 10, Sydney