Return to action will help Australia’s cricketing ‘family’

Australia coach Darren Lehmann. Picture: Steve Riding.
Australia coach Darren Lehmann. Picture: Steve Riding.
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Australia coach Darren Lehmann’s message for his side was to “stick together” as they began preparations for their first Test against India – their first match since the death of batsman Phillip Hughes.

Hughes died nine days ago, aged 25, two days after he was hit on the neck by a bouncer from Sean Abbott during a Sheffield Shield match between South Australia and New South Wales.

Hughes played 26 Test matches and 25 one-day internationals and, although Lehmann admits it will be a “challenge” to move on without the batsman, he feels cricket could help the grieving process.

“Yeah, we think so, only time will tell but I am sure they will be fine,” he said ahead of the first Test at the Adelaide Oval, which begins on Tuesday.

“They are looking forward to getting out there and playing some cricket, training, and getting ready for a Test match. Obviously Hughesy would want us to do that as well.

“It is about getting their skills sharp and by Sunday and Monday I expect them to be a 100 per cent.

“It’s just a case of them getting back into it (yesterday).

“It has never been dealt with before, it will be a big challenge for us.

“But having said that we are here to play some cricket and that’s the key for everyone.

“(We must) stick together. We lost a family member from our cricket community.

“It is a case of rallying round each other, his family and the whole CA (Cricket Australia) cricket family, and getting on with what we do well – and that’s playing some cricket.”

Of the 13-man squad, only Michael Clarke was absent from practice. The captain, who led the tributes to Hughes last week and read a eulogy at the funeral in Macksville in New South Wales, has a hamstring injury.

It is Clarke’s third such injury since September but, while he will take part in batting practice today at some point, Shaun Marsh was called in as cover yesterday.

“As long as he’s fine to do the running and can bat (he will play),” said Lehmann .

“He flies in (yesterday). We’ll get him batting (today) and see how he goes.

“It’ll be a case of, if he’s fine, he’ll play. We’ll just have to wait and see.

“We’ll be guided by medical staff, the captain himself, selectors.

“We’ll get together and assess what the plan is.

“He is mentally strong as you saw throughout the week with the Hughes family and held himself together really well.

“He led the team really well so from our point of view we get him here, get him batting, and see how it goes.

“We want our captain playing, it’s as simple as that.”