(Warning: Rant content rating – High)
The Indian team has reason to be happy – they’ve just won a test series against Pakistan in home soil after quite a few years. Sure, they deserve a pat on the back and all that – but the fact remains that this was a boring series and was a less than ideal preparation for the Australian series.
The real measure of a team these days comes from playing Australia in Australia – and how do we prepare for such an important tour?
- By laying and playing on the flattest and dullest of pitches that we’ve come to witness in recent times
- By packing the cricket calendar with so many games that the gap between the last game of the the previous series and the first tour game of the next is just over a week (a side effect of having the calendar packed with cricket is the number of injuries it causes – but that is another story)
- We play just ONE tour game – a three day match against Victoria to get acclimatised to the conditions in Australia
- By appointing a coach way too late.
It is all fine and dandy that the India top order scored plenty of fifties, hundreds and even double hundreds, but the conditions have been far from trying. To start with, the pitches were flat and batsman friendly. India are flat pitch bullies and when the bounce is low and the ball comes nicely on to the bat, they are unstoppable. To add to that, the opposition bowling barring Shoaib Akthar in the first test, has looked pedestrian (not that the pitch helped their cause).
…and when the Indians come to Australia – they are going to be in for a big surprise. Shock! Horror!! The ball bounces well over the knee roll and the bowlers are bowling fast and are accurate. And don’t forget that it is not just the batsmen, but also the Indian bowlers who need to get used to these conditions.
This is one of the reasons that teams coming to a place like Australia need to get here 3 weeks before the start of the series and play at least two tour games. But I know how the board thinks – “What? Tour games do not bring in any money. We could easily play a couple of one day games instead and earn more money for the cricket boards. So, why play them? Plus being top players who get paid top $$$ they should automatically adjust.” – This is probably the kind of attitude that has let visiting teams down. They should realize that it affects the quality of cricket played. It is unlikely that India will win the series in Australia, and most Indian fans know it. But what Indian fans like to see is a good fight – and the cricket board needs to prepare them for it.
One additional thing is the late (or non-) appointment of the coach. You can carry on arguing that India won the T20 WC and the test series in England and the one against Pakistan without a coach, and that we don’t really need one. But the fact of the matter is that modern cricket needs coaches and for a tough tour like Australia, they will struggle without one. (Kirsten will apparently join the team after the first two matches. IMHO, it is better that he stays away as he will be more of a distraction joining them in the middle of a tour.)
IF India do end up doing well in Australia, it will be in spite of the way the board prepares them, not because…