The shock deaths of two great team-mates have reunited cricketers from Australia’s greatest era – and it won’t be the last for that to happen.
The deaths of Shane Warne and Andrew Symonds has prompted a group of Australian cricketers to hold an annual reunion to celebrate absent friends – and each other.
A tearful Ricky Ponting said after Warne’s shock wore off in March that he regretted not telling his old teammate he loved him.
“I didn’t say that, but I wish I had,” Ponting said.
Now the former Australia captain is leaving nothing to chance and has taken it upon himself to set up a meetup for Justin Langer, Brett Lee, Matthew Hayden, Darren Lehmann, Andy Bichel, Adam Gilchrist, Greg Blewett and Shane Watson in Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula last weekend.
After a round of golf and dinner on Friday and a long lunch watching football and races on Saturday afternoon – culminating in a night of tunes off the jukebox – the Band of Brothers shared a few drinks and a mountain of memories to share to celebrate friendships they hope will last a lifetime.
Ponting and the players have pledged to make the “emotional” and “special” reunion an annual event, motivated by the collective pain they’ve experienced this year of not taking their bond for granted.
“Because Warnie was walking like him, and I think because we’ve been through what we’ve been through, that was a bit of a catalyst for bringing us all together,” Blewett told News Corp.
“One of the great things about Australian cricket overall is the camaraderie through it all, so to reflect on some of those times – it’s actually been quite an emotional weekend.
“I’m not going to go into the details but obviously some of the recent events have sparked some emotions and triggered everyone’s memories.
“We certainly raised a few glasses to some absent friends and it probably made this year a little more special as it’s the first year.”
Ponting was praised by the players for organizing the weekend, which included lodging the nine greats at a Sorrento pub.
“And the band is back together,” Ponting tweeted, along with a photo of the players arm in arm.
“What a weekend with these legends.”
Others from the Ponting era, including Mike Hussey, were invited to attend but were unable to attend due to other commitments – but it is hoped the reunion will continue to grow in numbers in the years to come.
“It was something special. It really was,” Blewett said.
“I think when the idea came up it was a no-brainer for most of us as to whether we could pull it off.
“There was a lot of anticipation and when it all happened I knew it was going to be a great time and it was.
“We all just sat around and had dinner that night, had some great tunes, so we all got to sing along a bit.
“It was great to spend some time with some of these guys. You see a lot of them over the summer, but it’s about that work environment. So it was good to just chill and just have a really, really good catch-up. It couldn’t have gone better.”
Following the tragic death of NRL coach Paul Green last week, the push for cricketers to meet and come together was an important message to ex-sports fans and men everywhere to stay connected and check in with your friends.
Langer, who only recently emerged from the intense limelight as Australia manager, was only allowed to be one of the lads in Sorrento when the players took each other’s lives.
“It was great meeting JL … he was just one of nine I guess and it was great educating and listening to all the guys on what they are doing in their life now, what they have planned and where they are going all of that,” Blewett said.
“We haven’t really talked much about what JL has been through in the last three or four years. It was more about just hanging out with everyone and listening to everyone what they were up to.”
Originally published as Australian cricket greats, they begin the annual reunion in memory of Shane Warne and Andrew Symonds
https://www.codesports.com.au/cricket/australian-cricket-greats-start-annual-reunion-in-memory-of-shane-warne-and-andrew-symonds/news-story/5fddc7e1c45fde864c3fa02222573c4a?nk=fced1633cf9ff07933d8f07fc981eb88-1660632786 Australian cricket greats begin annual reunion in memory of Shane Warne and Andrew Symonds