The saying that goes on about ‘stopping once in a while to smell the roses’ is one I like to try and remind myself of periodically.
An ODI series to be proud of
We wrapped up our ODI series against Pakistan earlier in the week and moved directly into T20 preparation mode for the UAE series and leading up to the ICC World Twenty20.
It was a chance to also sit back and enjoy what was a hard fought, and pleasingly, gritty series win. The first winning series I have been involved with since debuting for Australia. That has only been since our VB Tour of the West Indies tour in March, maybe not long for some.
But when I think back to how hard we have worked as a group and as individuals since that tour, realising we had to improve across so many aspects of the game if we were to do justice to those who came before us in these Australian colours and embracing those opportunities to improve rather than shy away or ignore them. Whilst also not forgetting the disappointment of the VB Tour of the British Isles, still very raw in our minds.
So forgive me being a little reflective here and enjoying the evening in the change rooms the other night with a group that thoroughly deserved to be happy with what we had just achieved in the three ODI games. The most pleasing thing was the performances of a range of people to help us win the series not just one or two.
I loved the fight and grit we showed in all three games, whilst discovering our capacity to play in oppressive heat on challenging wickets against a world-class team. Make no mistake, Pakistan in the UAE are certainly a world class team. The three lead-up games to the ICC World Twenty20 will be the perfect preparation as we seek to discover some team unity and the result we know we can deliver.
Sitting in the rooms with some of my closest mates, with a group of people I respect completely for how hard they work and what they are trying to achieve was a great moment.
Out of our comfort zones
One of the things we are focusing on as a group is challenging ourselves out of our comfort zones.
Acting coach for the ODI’s, Steve Rixon, introduced a “fun” (read terrifying for most) exercise at our team dinners whereby players are selected to talk for two minutes on one of a range of topics picked by the team. If they manage to get through the two minutes the boys can give them the thumbs up, signifying they are free. Or thumbs down, which sees them put back into the draw destined to have another crack at it another day.
Glenn Maxwell, who at times has made cricket look very easy on this trip, has failed in his attempt. Twice. Miserably. Our man of the series, Mitchell Starc who was at ease ripping holes in the Pakistani batting line up, looked all at sea trying to talk for two minutes on animal facts. Please hit him up on twitter @mstarc56 with some of your favourite facts so he will never be caught short again! If you have any topics you think the boys should have a crack at please let us know.
The good doctor
Whilst all the above things I have thoroughly enjoyed, I do have to share one thing that I am not fond of at the moment. We are very privileged on this tour to have the great Dr Peter Brukner as our team Doc. He is a great man and also an amazing Doc, having written the handbook on Sports Med in Australia. Unfortunately the Doc has discovered that when he sticks lots of needles in my shoulder it hurts me less to throw the next day. Check out how happy he is with his work! I am sort of hoping if I focus on what a great bloke I think he is, he will give me a few days of respite. Like all good doctors he loves inflicting a little bit of pain. Though I can promise you for some this would be heaven compared to standing in front of a group talking for two minutes. Keep challenging yourselves to get better at whatever it is you do everyone. I know we will be here.
Hopefully we can win tomorrow.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia