Cir­cuit-breaker BBQ at Head’s house

Sunday Mail - - SPORT - 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, pool ta­ble, re­stored pin­ball ma­chine and, most im­por­tantly, an en­vi­ron­ment to break the ice and get away from the tur­moil.

Since Cape Town in 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 post-game 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. We had a cou­ple of quiet beers, a bar­be­cue and watched the Cup. It was good to get out of the ho­tel and get away from cricket al­to­gether.

“If you’re con­stantly think­ing cricket or liv­ing it 24/7 there’s only so (much) you’ve got in the bank to bring that in­ten­sity to the game.”

RE­LIEF: Travis Head and Justin Langer af­ter Aus­tralia’s win.

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