(G.N.S) Dt. 20
The BCCI — which instead scheduled an out-of-context T20 series against Sri Lanka — is to blame
It’s astonishing that India journeyed to South Africa for such an important campaign with virtually no preparation.
Till less than a week before the team’s departure to South Africa, India was involved in a T20 series, one without any context, against Sri Lanka at home. That was the time when the players and the team-management needed to gather in a camp, lasting at least 10 days, before embarking on the demanding tour.
The cricketers had to get into the Test mode mentally and technically. There had to be strategy sessions, with the think-tank and the cricketers focusing on Test cricket alone, looking at different scenarios and putting in place game-plans. Instead, nothing happened and the Indians were rushed into the South Africa series. All that was scheduled ahead of the first Test in Cape Town on January 5 was a two-day practice game which the Indian team felt was a waste of time. Instead, it opted for centre-wicket practice.
Now, tour matches that are not First Class — these games do not have a designated eleven and most batsmen and bowlers in the squad get a run — clearly lack intensity and serve little purpose.
Given the significance of the series — India was travelling to a land where it has never before triumphed in a Test series — the side should have had two or at least one three-day First Class match in South Africa ahead of the first Test.
It is interesting to note that when India won its first ever Test on South African soil — at the Wanderers in 2006 — it had gone into the match after defeating a strong Rest of South Africa team in a three-day First Class game on a lively pitch at Potchefstroom.
During the match, the Indians learnt a lot about the conditions, the batsmen got a fair idea about the extra bounce and movement off the seam on the pitches here. And the pacemen made adjustments to their length — you don’t really have to pitch short on these surfaces to get more lift. The ball can climb from just short of a good length.
Came the first Test at the Wanderers and the Indians ambushed South Africa on a typically juicy pitch. Rahul Dravid and his men made history. This Indian team, sadly, was not given an opportunity to get used to these conditions by a Board that has got its priorities wrong. Cricket should come first, not striking deals and making loads of cash. Of course, money is important but not at the cost of hurting India’s chances away from home.
(G.N.S) Dt. 20