Former captain Steve Smith says Australia are better off training on their own rather than playing tour games on “irrelevant” Indian pitches ahead of the four-Test Border-Gavaskar series.
Australia have decided not to play a single tour game in India during the month-long Test series, primarily due to the hosts serving up green tops for practice matches and spinning tracks for the actual games.
Smith said net sessions would benefit his side more than the tour games. The Aussies had a pre-series camp on spin-friendly tracks in Sydney and will have a week-long stint in Bangalore before the first Test in Nagpur from February 9.
“We normally have two tour games over in England. This time we don’t have a tour game in India,” Smith, the Allan Border Medal recipient at the Australian Cricket Awards ceremony, was quoted as saying by news.com.au on Monday ahead of the team’s departure to India.
Ian Healy. Getty Images
“The last time we went (to India) I’m pretty sure we got served up a green top (to practice on) and it was sort of irrelevant. Hopefully, we get really good training facilities where the ball is likely to do what it’s likely to do out in the middle, and we can get our practice in,” said Smith. “We’re better off having our own nets and getting spinners in and bowling as much as they can.”
Smith, whose side had lost the series 1-2 when it toured India in 2017, indicated that a lot of thinking had gone into the decision. “We’ll wait and see when we hit the ground. I think we’ve made the right decision to not play a tour match. Like I said, last time they dished up a green top for us (in a tour game) and we barely faced any spin, so it’s kind of irrelevant.”
Former wicket-keeper Ian Healy added to the debate, saying the idea behind Pat Cummins’ side not playing a tour game is because “we no longer trust” the facilities provided by the host nation.
“We’ve gathered our spinners in Sydney for strategic talks (on replica India surfaces)… we no longer trust that the requested facilities will be provided for a nation,” Healy said on SEN Radio on Monday.
“We’ve been part of this shenanigan too by the way… when we’re over (in England) we spend our time whinging about weakened county teams that England put up as our opposition before the series.”
Healy said he doesn’t like the trend of home boards preparing different sets of wickets for tour games and actual matches, adding that it amounts to a breach of “trust”.
“It’s disappointing to watch such dismantling of trust between cricket’s nations and it needs to stop,” added Healy.
Usman Khawaja had said recently that it was a “good idea” not to play tour games, indicating they serve little purpose. “I think we have finally learned. When I heard we weren’t going to have a practice game I went up to (head coach) Andrew McDonald and said, ‘Good idea’,” Khawaja said.
Written with inputs from PTI