Kingston: Any visiting team would have raved and ranted had the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) scheduled practice sessions around 30kms from the team hotel. The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has done just that, but neither Rahul Dravid nor Greg Chappell can complain.
Reason being nobody in the BCCI studied Team India’s schedule in a manner Cricket Australia or the England & Wales Cricket Board would have done. There’s one office-bearer who keeps talking about the millions the BCCI is earning, but he should first ensure that the players’ on-tour comforts are looked after.
Indeed, Sharad Pawar and his team must get the basics right.
On Sunday, the Indians had to practise at Chedwin Park, past the Blue Mountain range and the Spanish Town and... It seemed an endless drive... It was the same on Monday, the last session before Tuesday’s tour-opener against the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) XI in Montego Bay.
The BCCI, in fact, ought to have insisted that match No.1 be slotted here itself. The Jamaican capital, after all, is hosting the first two ODIs (on Thursday and Saturday). Because it’s not in Kingston, the team will be flying to MoBay when it’s early on Tuesday in India and return immediately after the face-off.
If the mandarins back home can’t push for simple things, they should at least stop bending backwards to oblige touring teams. “Is anybody really bothered about us'” asked one of the stars in a chat with The Telegraph. He answered himself: “No.”
Ramesh Powar hurt his right ankle during Monday’s workout, in simulated match conditions, but the team management announced he was “fine.”
Meanwhile, the Indians may field the XI which played the 2005-06 season’s last ODI (Abu Dhabi, versus Pakistan). “On form, that was our best team and it makes sense to play our strongest in the only warm-up match before the series,” remarked a member of the team management.
If that indeed is how the XI shapes up, then Mohammed Kaif won’t find a place. Kaif has struggled in the ODIs this year and must consider himself very lucky to be in the West Indies' He made it wholly because of the captain and coach’s backing.
That winning XI in Abu Dhabi, by the way, included five specialist bowlers. Unless there’s a rethink, the strategy won’t change. Incidentally, the Indians haven’t played competitive cricket for almost a month.
Captained by Wavell Hinds, the JCA XI is “going to be strong,” as Dravid acknowledged on arrival here. The squad, announced a few days ago, includes Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Daren Powell and Jermaine Lawson.
India (likely): Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yalaka Venugopal Rao, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Ramesh Powar, Harbhajan Singh, Sreesanth.
JCA XI (from): Wavell Hinds, Chris Gayle, Donovan Pagon, Marlon Samuels, Daren Powell, Jerome Taylor, Nikita Miller, Carlton Baugh (Jr), Jermaine Lawson, Tamar Lambert, Bevon Brown, Danza Hyatt, Andrew Richardson, Damion Ebanks, Donovon Sinclair.