Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland has revealed that none of the national players will be forced to play the first Test against India in Adelaide.
Sutherland’s comments come after the dates of the Test series against India were changed due to the funeral of batsman Phillip Hughes, which is being held in his hometown of Macksville on December 3.
Hughees passed away at the age of 25 when he was struck on the side of the neck by a bouncer from New South Wales pace bowler Sean Abbott.
“Absolutely up to the individual,” Sutherland said. “Any player that is not comfortable or doesn’t feel right, or there is medical advice to suggest that they’re not quite right, then we will obviously understand that and I’m sure the broader public will understand that as well.
“Right now, there’s a funeral tomorrow and let’s understand that’s going to be difficult enough as it is. There’ll 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 and let them in their own way work through that.
“Understand that we and the ACA will be supporting them, and no one will think ill of anyone who feels uncomfortable about it. Test cricket is a different game. It’s not just going out there and playing a game of sport for a couple of hours. You need to go out there and commit to five days. You need to front up day after day after day. It’s a big step and it’s not just an ordinary sporting match.”
The first Test was initially scheduled to get underway on December 4 in Brisbane. However, it was moved to Adelaide out of respect for Hughes since it became his adopted hometown for the last two summers.
The dates of the second and fourth Test have changed as well, but the dates for the third Test remained the same since Cricket Australia still want the traditional Boxing Day Test to go ahead.
“There’s nothing perfect about what we’ve come up [with] here but we appreciate everyone’s support and understanding in these tragic and extraordinary circumstances,” Sutherland said. “The schedule will inconvenience a lot of people. We understand that. But we very much hope that in light of these extraordinary circumstances that everyone can see the big picture.”
Sutherland also admitted that Cricket Australia came very close to cancelling the first Test.
“It’s been remarkable to talk to our commercial partners,” Sutherland said. “I’ve had conversations with chief executives of our commercial partners including broadcasters, who have said ‘we completely understand the circumstances you are in, we should be the last ones you worry about, just get it done, do whatever you’ve got to do to work it through but don’t feel any pressure from us’. I think that’s been magnificent.”