Time for payback, says Watson

Australia are ready to tackle India after a trying time following Hughes' death

Time for payback, says Watson

Adelaide: If things had turned out as one had suspected, Phillip Hughes most probably would have been playing for Australia in the first Test in Brisbane.

But fate willed otherwise and on Tuesday, when the rescheduled opening match begins here at his adopted home ground, the Adelaide Oval, the Australian cricketers will be paying their homage to their departed team-mate.

Sporting Hughes’ Test cap number — 408 — on their shirt and applauding for 63 seconds — the figure he was on before he was felled by the bouncer — are just two of the many tributes that are lined up for Hughes on the opening day of the first Test.

The biggest respect, however, the Aussies would be according is by actually ‘turning up’ for the first Test. Undoubtedly, it’s been quite traumatic for the home players and pulling themselves for training sessions has been an arduous task for them mentally. But time heals everything and listening to Shane Watson, who was on the field when Hughes was fatally struck on the back of his neck, it appeared the Australians may just be ready for the battle, as much against their own inner demons as against India.

“I am getting there,” said the all-rounder when asked about his preparations for the first Test. “Physically I feel ready to go, no doubt. Mentally it's probably been the biggest challenge. It's been the most mentally challenging couple of days I have had to go through in my career. Seeing what happened over the last week, (I am) trying to process it, especially being there at the SCG.

“It's been a mentally challenging time but there's no doubt I will be ready to go for Tuesday. Everyone is going through the process in their own way. Everyone is handling it as well as they possibly can. Everyone is progressing well. Some guys are a bit more affected than others but every session we're out there, you can see everyone gradually starting to find their feet,” he offered.

While an outpouring of public emotion from within the country and abroad has been heart-warming for the Aussie cricketers, they have been given constant counselling by team psychologist besides an interaction session with Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, a war hero, on Sunday during a training session.    
 
“We have been incredibly well looked after from the moment the unfortunate circumstances happened with Phillip. We've got Michael Lloyd, the cricket Australia psychologist who is a great man and really knows how to connect with individuals. That has helped. It's probably been more of an individual thing as well. Everyone has got different emotions from different stages of life.

We need this time to come together as a group and find our feet again after the tragedy that happened. I think this has been as important a four-day lead up to a Test match that I have ever been involved with because there’s a lot of inner demons we have had to find our way through,” he explained.

The crowd and India, Watson felt, will have the Australians’ competitive juices flowing. India whitewashed Australia 4-0 at home in early 2013 and the hosts say it’s payback time. “From the Test perspective, once we get out there in front of a great crowd, everyone's competitive juices will be running, especially playing India. We've got a lot to give back to them after they nailed us during the last Test series we played in India. I have no doubt everyone will be up and ready to go.”

There has been a lot of debate on whether to bowl bouncers or not and if Australian bowlers will shy away from pitching the ball short. Well, at least at the ‘nets’ they are not holding anything back and Watson was candid when he said there was some hesitancy while facing bouncers.

“There was, initially… I would be lying if I said there wasn't,” he noted. “But every day I've gone out there to bat I have got more comfortable with it, more comfortable just reacting to what I see and trusting my skill. That's a part of the game where you just hope your skill can get you out of trouble if that comes our way. I knew I had to confront it, from day one that I went in over at Park 25 (practice arena). Every day I go in I feel more comfortable,” he remarked.
DH News Service

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