Lara’s call helped spark Fletcher to life

West Indies' Andre Fletcher plays a shot during their ICC World Twenty20 2016 cricket match against Sri Lanka in Bangalore, India, Sunday, March 20, 2016.
Associated Press/Aijaz Rahi, file

A phone call from West Indies batting legend Brian Lara was the catalyst for Andre Fletcher to burst out of his Big Bash League (BBL) form slump, according to ESPNcricinfo.

But the online cricket outlet said Fletch revealed he may not be available for the finals if the Melbourne Stars progress that far as they also prepare for life with Haris Rauf.

Rauf was named in the Pakistan Test squad for a two-Test of South Africa starting on Jan. 26 and left Melbourne on Jan.15 after bowling just one over in the Stars’ thumping win over the Adelaide Strikers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Australia, ESPNcricinfo said.

Fletcher also said he may not see the tournament out. He has signed to play in the Abu Dhabi T10 League for the Bangla Tigers, with the 10-day tournament starting on Jan. 28, two days after the Stars’ last home and away game and a day prior to the BBL eliminator, according to ESPNcricinfo.

It said the BBL finals run from Jan. 28 to Feb. 6.

ESPNcricinfo said the Stars have already released Ben Dunk from his contract, and he is listed to play for the Qalandars in the T10 competition, which is also his PSL franchise.

Fletcher said he would like to stay in Melbourne if it’s possible after receiving tremendous support from the Stars during his lean run of form, according to ESPNcricinfo.

“I signed a T10 deal a few weeks before the BBL, so I’ll have a think about it, speak to my agent and hear what he says,” Fletcher said. “I would love to stay to be honest.”

Fletcher was Player of the Match for his stunning 89 not out, having not passed 18 in his first nine BBL innings this season, and having not passed 50 in his last 30 T20 innings dating back to December 2019, ESPNcricinfo said.

It said Fletcher received a phone call “out of the blue from Lara,” who is Australia commentating on the BBL for Australian broadcaster Channel Seven, to give him some advice.

“He called me, and I was surprised, to be honest,” Fletcher said after his match-winning innings. “He was telling me that, looking from the outside, I’ve been striking the ball cleanly and he just told me to give myself that opportunity. Giving myself that chance and playing each ball on its merits.

“I’m an aggressive player, so there’s no need to go out there and look to [over] power the ball,” he added. “To be honest, that’s what I did today.

“I’ve met him before. He’s a great guy. I told him over the phone, after what he told me I was like, ‘So Brian, now I understand the reason you were so great’,” Fletcher continued. “”He told me, feel free to call him any time I wish to, he’s there, he’s open for anything and willing to give me advice.”

Captain Glenn Maxwell gave Fletcher a warm and long embrace after he came off the ground, according to ESPNcricinfo.

“You could see what it meant to him after the game,” Maxwell said. “He was obviously pretty emotional. He got the phone call from the Prince during the week. Just to have that support behind the scenes was really crucial for him. We know how hard he’s been working in the nets. He’s a great team man as well.”

ESPNcricinfo said the Stars “vaulted back into finals calculations with their huge win over the Strikers” and play their last four matches in Melbourne, including three at the MCG.

But it said losing Rauf is a blow to the balance of their side.

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