The funeral of Phillip Hughes has brought an element of closure for Australia’s players according to coach Darren Lehmann, who now hopes they will honour their former team mate in the way they play the first test against India next week.
The entire test squad was in Macksville for Wednesday’s funeral and captain Michael Clarke played a leading role in the ceremony with an emotional speech about the former test batsman, who died last week after being hit on the head by a bouncer.
Lehmann paid his own tribute to Hughes in a column in the Australian on Thursday, saying it was likely that he would have been playing against India had he not been so cruelly struck down a few days short of his 26th birthday.
The tragedy led to the first test in Brisbane being postponed and the Adelaide match brought forward a couple of days to start next Tuesday.
“We hope the boys can find the inner strength to play the game in the way Phillip would have wanted in Adelaide next week and that they can honour what he had done,” Lehmann wrote.
“We want to hold his values close to our heart and that means playing cricket the way he did, with a love of the game and a smile.
“It’s going to be hard and if somebody is struggling Michael and I understand. There is no pressure on them. We will look after them and we will help them get back to the place where they can play. We left a bit of heart in Macksville yesterday.”
Pace bowler Ryan Harris said on Tuesday he was not certain whether he would be emotionally ready to play in Adelaide, let alone the likes of David Warner who witnessed the incident that led to Hughes’s death.
Although clearly nobody would have wished it, the delay caused by the postponement of the Brisbane test has given Clarke more time to recover from the hamstring injury which had put in doubt his fitness for the start of the series.
The same could also be true for his India counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was set to be replaced by Virat Kholi as skipper for the series opener as he recovered from a thumb injury.
After their preparations were disrupted in the wake of the tragedy, India will finally get a chance for some serious match practice on Thursday when they take on a Cricket Australia XI in a two-day tour match at Adelaide’s Gliderol Oval.
“This tour match has been scheduled to allow the Indian team to adequately prepare for the test,” Cricket Australia’s Pat Howard said.
“We appreciate the understanding and cooperation shown by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), who have been nothing but supportive during this tragic time.”