Circuit-breaker BBQ at Head’s house
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.