Australia bared their hearts – and feet – as they began preparations for their World Cup semi-final against England with an extended huddle on the outfield at Edgbaston.
The squad began Monday’s training session by discarding their socks and trainers, taking a walk across the playing surface and then sat for more than half-an-hour in the same state as they took it in turns to talk to each other about their emotions ahead of the knockouts.
The move seems to come directly from the playbook of head coach Justin Langer, who last year described himself as “a bit of a hippy”, who liked to spend a month a year growing out his beard and walking barefoot.
Peter Handscomb has yet to play in the tournament, having joined up as a replacement for Shaun Marsh, but is in line to face England in place of another injury victim, Usman Khawaja.
Asked for his take on the walkabout and ‘bonding circle’, Handscomb said: “It’s just a moment to get a feel for the ground, literally.
“You do that lap and you can see all the different views from the ground and where you might be fielding and it gives you an opportunity to take it all in before it all starts on Thursday.
“(We had) an open and honest conversation and it was great that some of the guys poured their heart out there about what it meant to get to the semi-final.
“There were some really good stories: what it meant for them and their first memories of cricket growing up. It was really nice to see what playing in the finals means to this group.”
Handscomb’s chance to be part of that group would not have come around but for the misfortune of others but he still feels for those who have been laid low.
Marsh is the only player who has been formally ruled out so far but the paperwork has been lodged for Matthew Wade to take the hamstrung Khawaja’s slot, while Mitch Marsh is travelling as cover for Marcus Stoinis.
“It’s actually living the dream to be here now,” he said.
“It’s really sad for those guys who have gone down, especially so late in the tournament.
“For those two guys who have done so much to go down was pretty gut -wrenching but they’re very excited for us and that’s the camaraderie in this group.
“Both Mitch and I have played recently in the one-dayers so we’ve been in and amongst the boys, and Wadey has been in and out for years. We’re all ready to go.”
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