Former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar has raised some questions regarding the lack of practice matches for India ahead of the five-match Test series against England.
Cricket news: India should have played more practice matches, says Sunil Gavaskar
India had lost the first Test by 31 runs and apart from skipper Virat Kohli, no other specialist batsmen could put up a strong performance.
This has led to Gavaskar questioning about the purpose of “simulated” training rather than playing actual practice matches.
The ODI series had ended on July 17 and the first Test began on August 1. Between this 14-days gap, India played only one practice game against Essex, which was even reduced to three days rather than the original four days scheduled play.
Gavaskar had said that Kohli might have the talent to adjust to Test cricket after a long gap, while the others might not have that and those practise matches could have helped them.
“See Virat Kohli is such an exceptional talent, he can take 15 days off and then score a hundred the next day,” Gavaskar told India Today. “If he takes time off, no quarrel at all. But he has to understand, and the team management have to understand, that others need practice.
“I understand the need to switch off, but it can’t be five days. The preparation should have been much more intense at the start of the series. You can taper off later, but not at the start. The last ODI was on July 17, and the Test series started on August 1. There were 14 days in between. And you play only a three-day match in that period? Why have you gone to England – to play cricket or something else? I agree, they have practised for long hours in those days, but like I said, you cannot get by with just practice. You have to play matches too.”
Gavaskar had brushed aside the notion of arriving in England beforehand had benefitted the team as he believed that those time were spent playing one-day cricket.
“They deluded themselves, and everybody, by saying they have been in England for a month. But in that time they were playing against the white ball. And the white ball doesn’t move as much as the red one, and the Duke ball particularly moves even more,” he pointed out. “They didn’t learn anything from the South Africa experience. [India lost 2-1 away to South Africa at the start of the year] They didn’t have much time there, but they did have a two-day practice match which they also cancelled. In South Africa, India played well in the third Test, only after playing in two Tests. We’re talking of five Tests here, if you start winning after two Tests, the series can be gone by then.
“You can have as many match simulations, as many throw-downs, but it is never the same as a match situations. While taking throw-downs, you can get out, but you know you’ll still be batting the next ball. If a bowler bowls a no-ball in a match, he won’t get a wicket. In the match, if you get out, you’ll be sitting in the dressing room and watching someone else score the runs you should have.”
Gavaskar also believed that India made a terrible mistake by not taking in an additional batsman in these overseas conditions.
“If it was up to me, in the first Test of an overseas series, I would always go with six batsmen,” he said. “Then with a wicketkeeper and an allrounder like Ashwin, your batting depth increases. If after that, your top four hit form, you can go with five bowlers in the subsequent Tests. The need of the hour now is to strengthen the batting.”
Gavaskar even added that it was only Kohli who had the mental adjustment to play in the Test match, while other batsmen had totally failed in this aspect.
“Virat adjusted temperamentally. The bat-speed in one-day cricket is higher, because you’re looking to play shots. It’s not like that in Test cricket,” Gavaskar said. “The more you leave balls in Tests, the better for you, because the bowler tires. And if you keep leaving balls outside off, you will force the bowler to change his line. Virat made that adjustment, the others didn’t. See Shikhar Dhawan’s dismissals in both innings, Rahul in the first innings, Ajinkya Rahane in both innings – they all went at the ball with hard hands. The secret to batting in England is not to reach for the ball, but let it come on to the bat. If they can make that adjustment, the others can make runs in the next Test onwards.”