Adelaide: Cricket Australia (CA) today said it will be up to the players to decide whether they are ready for the "extremely emotional" first cricket Test against India in the the aftermath of Philip Hughes' demise, as fast bowler Ryan Harris admitted he is unsure about his participation.
CA chief executive James Sutherland said it is too early to speculate which players will be mentally ready to take the field for the re-scheduled first Test in Adelaide next Tuesday. CA confirmed a series of date changes to Australia's four-Test series against India on Monday night, prompted by the tragic death of Hughes.
Adelaide Oval will now host the postponed first Test, with the game to start at Hughes' adopted home ground two weeks after the 25-year-old was felled by a bouncer. Sutherland, speaking en route to Macksville for Hughes' funeral tomorrow, said when the time comes it will be up to each squad member to decide whether they're ready for what shapes as an extremely emotional Test.
"Any player that is not comfortable or doesn't feel right, or there is medical advice to suggest they're not quite right, then we will obviously understand that," Sutherland was quoted by Australia's AAP news agency as saying. "I'm sure the broader public will understand that as well. Understand that we and the Australian Cricketers' Association will be supporting them and nobody will think ill of anyone who feels uncomfortable about it," Sutherland said.
"Test cricket is a different game, it's not just going out there and playing a game of sport for a couple of hours ... it's a big step," he said. Test players David Warner, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin and Nathan Lyon were on the field during last Tuesday's freak accident at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Conjecture about the make-up of an XI is usually standard practice before a Test series, but there will be nothing normal about the next week's match.
"I'm not going to jump ahead to that," Sutherland said, when asked about players availability. "There's a funeral tomorrow, let's just understand that's going to be difficult enough as it is. There will be a great temptation for people to speculate about who's going to play and how they're feeling, I'd just encourage everyone to give the players their space. Let them, in their own way, work through it," he said.
Harris, meanwhile, said he had not reached a decision on his return and said many players would have liked longer to come to terms with Hughes' tragic death. "Tomorrow (the funeral) is the day we're all thinking about. The back of our mind is Tuesday and we have to do what we can to prepare for that," Harris said.
"I still have (doubts) ... I'm still thinking about it. I'm not sure. We'll see how I go tomorrow (Wednesday). Every individual is different," he said. Harris was back in the nets bowling in Brisbane on Tuesday - 60 deliveries without a bouncer - but said that was a far cry from taking the field against India on December 9 at
the Adelaide Oval, which will now host the first Test after a major scheduling reshuffle.
Australian players will make their way to Macksville tomorrow for the funeral of teammate Hughes and from there, they will convene in Adelaide to prepare for five days of cricket. Harris believes the funeral may provide a degree of closure for players, enabling them to return to the field next Tuesday in what will be one of the most memorable and emotional occasions ever witnessed in Australian cricket.