A surprise phone call from West Indies legend Brian Lara inspired countryman Andre Fletcher’s stunning Big Bash League form reversal in the Melbourne Stars’ huge BBL win over Adelaide.
Fletcher was called up by the Stars as a late replacement for high-profile import Jonny Bairstow when the latter was recalled by England in December.
Despite arriving with a big reputation, the 33-year-old averaged just 14.62 at the top of the order in the first nine matches of the Stars’ stuttering campaign.
But that all changed after a midweek discussion with Lara, whose calming words of advice helped Fletcher produce a match-winning knock of 89 not out from 49 balls against the Strikers on Friday night.
The hard-hitting batsman, dubbed ‘The Spiceman’, delivered a series of brutal blows in his maiden appearance at the MCG.
He blasted eight fours and four sixes, and scored 32 of the Stars’ 33 runs in the power surge during a 77-run stand with Hilton Cartwright.
Fletcher and leg spinner Adam Zampa (5-17) were key contributors in the 111-run victory, which put the Stars firmly back in the BBL finals picture.
“(Lara) told me that looking from the outside I’ve been striking the ball cleanly and he just told me to give myself that opportunity,” Fletcher said.
“He gave me advice about the MCG, 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 power the ball.
“That’s what I did today and I just want to continue.”
Fletcher was thrilled to repay Lara with a brilliant batting display and now has an open offer to call the cricket legend any time he feels the need.
“After what he told me I said, ‘Brian, now I understand the reasons why you are so great’,” Fletcher said.
“He’s there, he’s open for anything and willing to give me advice.
“I’m so happy and, to be honest, I was overwhelmed.
“I was a bit emotional at the end (of the innings) and the reason for that was because of the family that we have in the team.”
Fletcher has signed a contract in the UAE T10 League and is weighing up whether to commit to that or stay with the Stars for a possible BBL title push.
He is set to play in the Stars’ upcoming home-and-away clashes with the struggling Melbourne Renegades, who sit last in the table.
Fletcher said he “would love to” inflict more pain on the Renegades.
“We just have to not get too over-confident, play the game as it is and trust in the result,” Fletcher said.