No pressure on Australia players for Adelaide test
Cricketers & officials have begun converging on the small town of Macksville for Phillip Hughes's funeral.
SYDNEY - Cricketers and officials from around Australia began converging on the small town of Macksville, New South Wales for the funeral of Phillip Hughes as the impact of his untimely death on the international game unfolded on Tuesday.
Hughes, who would have been 26 at the weekend, died last Thursday from a catastrophic injury caused by a ball striking him in the back of the head during a domestic match, triggering a huge outpouring of grief in Australia and around the world.
Some 5,000 people are expected for the funeral at 2pm local time on Wednesday in the small coastal town halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, where Hughes grew up on a farm producing bananas and beef.
Among them will be his team mates from the Australia squad, whose grief at his death caused the postponement of the first test of a four-match series against India which was scheduled to start in Brisbane on Thursday.
Cricket Australia have re-jigged the schedule with the series now getting underway in Adelaide next Tuesday but are aware that even that might still be too soon for some players.
Chief executive James Sutherland said CA would be understanding of players who still feel uncomfortable about playing next week.
"There's a funeral tomorrow, let's just understand that's going to be difficult enough as it is," he told reporters at Sydney Airport on his way to Macksville.
"I'd encourage everyone to give players their space and let them in their own way work through that.
"It's absolutely up to the individual (whether they play), and any player that is not comfortable or doesn't feel right, or there is medical advice that it is not quite right, we will obviously understand that."
Pace bowler Ryan Harris later said he was not sure he would be emotionally ready to bowl in Adelaide.
"Tomorrow is the day we are thinking about. In the back of our mind is Tuesday and we have got to do what we can to try to prepare for that," he told reporters in Brisbane.
"I'm still thinking about it and I'm not sure, see how we go tomorrow, I guess. But this is tough for some boys and it is going to be tough for me. I will have to work it out when I get to Adelaide and see how we all feel.
"The boys who were there who witnessed what happened I can't speak for them because I can't imagine what they are going through."
Sutherland said consideration had been given to cancelling the Brisbane test, which is worth some A$20 million to Cricket Australia and will now be squeezed between the Adelaide and Melbourne tests from 17-21 December.
"To be honest it was close, there were only a few days in it, but in the end we've been able to get to a solution that I believe was optimal," he said.
"I just hope everyone will understand the big picture here, these are tragic and extraordinary circumstances."
Alistair Nicholson, chief executive of the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA), represented the players in the discussions about the rescheduling and said the solution satisfied their two main concerns.
"It was very important that the Hughes family were given a chance to lay Phil to rest and the preparation time was also important," he said.
"It's obviously going to be a tough summer with four tests against India and the World Cup but the players will now be able to focus because there's now certainty."
In another tweak to the schedule announced on Tuesday, the venues for Australia's ODIs against England on 16 January and 18 January, which will also serve as World Cup warm-ups, have been switched with Sydney now hosting the former and Melbourne the latter.
Sutherland also expressed sympathy for India's players, whose preparations for the series have been severely disrupted after the cancellation of one of their two warm-up matches last week.
A match against an Cricket Australia XI has now been scheduled for Thursday and Friday at Glenelg Oval in Adelaide, while India's stand-in skipper Virat Kohli will be among the mourners at the funeral.
"It will be a sad day, as every funeral is," Hughes's manager James Henderson told reporters in Macksville.
"But it will also be a wonderful celebration of a young man who achieved so much in 26 years of life."