Australian all-rounder Shane Watson.
Australia might still be mourning the tragic loss of Phillip Hughes but all-rounder Shane Watson on Sunday said his team will be ready to dish out aggressive cricket and inflict pain on India when the opening Test gets underway in Adelaide on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old allrounder said last week has been the most challenging phase for the team but he believed that his side will play with the same aggression as in the past and avenge their 0-4 loss to India last year.
“We’ve played our best cricket when we are aggressive. That’s ever since I’ve been involved in the Australian cricket team. We are aggressive with bat and ball, especially with the ball as we were during the last Ashes series. That’s not going to change because that’s when we’re at our absolute best,” Watson told reporters on Sunday.
“We know what we have to do to do well against the Indians. They hammered us in their conditions so we have a lot to give back to them in our conditions. They certainly let us know that they were on top of us in that series.
“We need to make sure we start off well in that series and stay strong to make sure they feel a similar pain as we did over in India,” he added.
India had inflicted a 4-0 loss on Australia the last time the teams met in India in February-March 2013. That was in reply to the 4-0 hammering they had received on their last tour Down Under in 2011-12.
The hosts, who have resumed training last Friday, are currently recovering from the shock death of their team-mate Hughes who was struck by a bouncer from Sean Abbott in a Sheffield Shield game on November 24. He died two days late in a Sydney hospital.
“Mentally I’m slowly getting there. Physically, I feel ready to go. There’s no doubt that mentally the last couple of days have been the most challenging of my career. After seeing what happened over the last week, trying to process everything that’s happened, being there at the SCG when it happened as well, it’s been a mentally challenging time but I’ll be ready for Tuesday,” Watson said.
“Everyone is going through the process in their own way and everyone is handling it as well as they possibly can. But it’s been a big challenge to be able to just continue to try and put the memories that I have got — that are very much in the front of my mind — to move it back a little bit in my mind and trust what I do as a batsman,” Watson said.
“I know everyone’s going to be in the same boat as well.
It’s not just the guys who were that at the SCG, it’s for everyone around the world,” he added.
Watson, along with Brad Haddin, Nathan Lyon and David Warner, were part of that ill—fated New South Wales versus South Australia game when Hughes was injured by a bouncer and never recovered.
His death saw an outpouring of emotion across Australia and indeed the whole sporting world, and as a result, the Test series was rescheduled with the first Test moving from Brisbane to Adelaide.
“Growing up, you never expect anything to this extent — what happened to Phillip. I know it sent shock waves around the world, because we just love playing the game and you don’t expect to lose a little mate on the way,” said Watson about the tragic circumstance.
When asked if he was confident that the entire first eleven will be on the field for Australia, the all—rounder replied, “Yeah I am. Everyone’s progressing well. Some guys have been a bit more affected than others. But every session we’re out there you can see that everyone’s starting to gradually find their feet and get back to what we like doing.”
The Australian team got together on Thursday and since Friday have been preparing for the Test match, gradually increasing their intensity in training.
Skipper Michael Clarke is also expected to play the first Test as he has nearly overcome his troublesome left hamstring and participated in all practice sessions so far.
“We’ve been incredibly well looked after from the moment the unfortunate circumstance happened with Phillip. NSW Cricket and Cricket Australia have made sure we have had great support. But it’s also more of an individual thing, to be able just to process it yourself. Everyone’s got different emotions from different stages of life you’re at as well. It’s about individualising it, and giving yourself enough time to process it and slowly building up,” Watson said.
“Getting back to cricket has helped the process. But it has been tough as well. The first couple of sessions were tough and especially the first one was really tough. A few things flooded into my head as soon as I went out to bat.
“I thought I’d processed quite well over the previous week. It’s been tough but it’s been a great thing to get back into the game we all love playing. We know how much Phillip and his family love the game as well.
“For us, to continue on with Hughes and his family’s legacy to make sure we continue to play the game we love because it’s enriched our lives so much,” he added.
The series will start with a highly emotional Test at the Adelaide Oval, Hughes’ adopted home ground and Watson said the last days in the run-up to the match have been most important.
“We needed this extra time to come together as a group and find our feet again after the tragedy that happened. So I think this has been an important four days lead-up to the Test match that I have ever been involved in with the Australian team because we have had to find out way through,” he said.
“So from the Test perspective there is no doubt that once we get out and find a great crowd — there is always a great crowd here in Adelaide — everyone’s competitive juices will be up and running. Especially after the last Test series we played in India, I have no doubt that everyone will be up and ready to go,” Watson signed off.