Bar­be­cue sparks up a re­vival

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SUMMER OF CRICKET - BEN HORNE

IT was the bar­be­cue that helped break the long­est drought in Aus­tralian cricket his­tory.

As the walls caved in on the game from all an­gles, play­ers gath­ered at Travis Head’s house in Ade­laide for a quiet beer and a bet on Mel­bourne Cup day.

D’Arcy Short won the sweep with Cross Counter, fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Ha­zle­wood rounded out the tri­fecta and Ash­ton Agar got his money back on the horse that ran last.

Head’s abode pro­vided a dart board, a pool ta­ble, a re­stored pin­ball ma­chine and most im­por­tantly, an en­vi­ron­ment to break the ice and get away from the tur­moil.

Since Cape Town back in late March, this vul­ner­a­ble Aus­tralian side has been the most heav­ily scru­ti­nised on record, and it’s taken its toll. Con­fi­dence has eroded, bad per­for­mances have stacked up and the blood­let­ting from front of­fice has only ex­ac­er­bated the lev­els of pres­sure and un­cer­tainty.

Aus­tralia spent nearly six weeks in the UAE desert for no re­sults, and then flew di­rectly to Perth for the start of a sum­mer which was meant to feel like some­thing new, but didn’t.

The team is to­gether from the break­fast buf­fet in the morn­ing to the mid­night postgame team meet­ing, but does the grind of mov­ing from one ho­tel room and one con­ti­nent to the next al­low time for bond­ing? Not al­ways. And bond­ing and ca­ma­raderie is some­thing this team in par­tic­u­lar so des­per­ately needs.

For a cou­ple of hours at Head’s bar­be­cue, the play­ers es­caped from – for want of a bet­ter word – the bub­ble.

“Ab­so­lutely it does (help). We spend so much time at cricket grounds and at air­ports and ho­tels by your­self that if you con­stantly con­sume your­self with the game 24/7 it can wear you down,” says cap­tain, Aaron Finch.

“Par­tic­u­larly when things aren’t go­ing as we planned.

“Heady in­vited us around to his place. It was a great af­ter­noon to get away from cricket and just en­joy each other’s com­pany.”

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