Brad Haddin © Getty Images
Brad Haddin (above) could captain Australia if Michael Clarke is unfit for the first Test © Getty Images

By Chetan Narula

Adelaide: Dec 6, 2014

Getting a grip on things after the Phillip Hughes tragedy, the Australian team practised for the second consecutive day in Adelaide 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 wicketkeeper. “We all went back to the game we loved. And it was a good day,” Haddin said ahead of the 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 cricket feel back in your legs and 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.”

Skipper Michael Clarke had put in some work at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday before he flew to Adelaide to join the team. Still uncertain about his fitness, Clarke practised with the team. “No, I haven’t,” said Haddin when asked if he was thinking about having to lead the team on Tuesday. “Michael had a good hit today. He is going to back up this afternoon, and be involved in our session. So I haven’t thought about it to be honest.”

“Michael’s been strong for the team for a long time. I think he’s a tremendous captain and we want our captain out there playing. All signs are that he’s going in the right direction, and like everyone else, we want Michael out there leading our team in the first hour of play here in Adelaide,” he added.

As much as cricket needed to be the central theme, talk did shift back to the events of November 24, when in the Sheffield Shield game between New South Wales and South Australia in Sydney, Hughes was hit by a Sean Abbott bouncer. He died two days later, sparking an emotional outpouring across the country. The Test series was rescheduled afterwards.

Haddin, along with David Warner, Shane Watson and Nathan Lyon, were all part of that match and witnessed the incident first-hand. Naturally he was asked about the fateful day and how the players were trying to move on. “We get back to playing the game we love. I don’t think we need to complicate it any more than that: you get back to playing cricket,” he replied calmly.

“We all love the game. That’s why we’re all here now. It’s a great game and been good to so many of us. Our job is to go and play cricket, and to enjoy that. We need the support of the Australian public and everyone leading into this first Test. We’re looking forward to playing and we need the help of everyone to enjoy the moment and just enjoy the game of cricket.”

On Friday, Warner had excused himself from the Australian team’s training, although he had taken part in some team-bonding activities before the work-out began. When asked about the opener’s state of mind, Haddin said, “There was no pressure on anyone yesterday. There were no expectations on anyone regarding what you had to do or what you needed to get out of the net session. If you needed to take half an hour or ten minutes or five minutes, there were no expectations. It was all individualised and I didn’t count how guys were in the nets.”

Talking about the Test series, with the first Test to be played at the drier Adelaide Oval instead of the zippy Gabba in Brisbane, he said, “It’s obviously a different venue and you have different plans to get batsmen out. But, it’s a good cricket wicket here. I don’t think you need to read too much into what venue we’re playing at. It’s about doing our job and making sure we?re ready for the conditions here.”

“I think once we are out there, we will be there to play our style of cricket,” he replied, when asked if the Australian team will still be aggressive and use bouncers. I don’t think we have to complicate things. It’s about getting out there and playing the game of cricket, executing our skills under pressure. We will play the brand of cricket we have always played.” Finally, when asked if he had had any contact from the Indian players, Haddin replied in the negative.