Powerful BCCI fails to ensure warm-up games for Team India in England
Southampton: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) may be called the strongest and the richest board in the world but it seems it doesn’t hold enough clout to get some county games for its team that is languishing in England.
India’s loss in the World Test Championship (WTC) final exposed chinks in its batting against the moving ball as New Zealand bowlers made the ball talk and picked wickets regularly, skittling out India for 170 on the sixth — reserve — day and putting their team on road to victory when it looked like the Test would end in a draw.
While the team had no warm-up games during the quarantine period ahead of WTC final, lack of competitive practice matches, especially against counties over 41 days between the end of WTC final and the start of first Test against England on August 4, will give them little chance to get acclimatised and improve their confidence.
India skipper Virat Kohli said they wanted to play matches against counties between the WTC final and England Test series. However, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) didn’t allow that.
In the absence of matches against county sides, India were expected to play India A. But the India A tour was cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Now they are left with only intra-squad games to overcome the chinks. “Well, that doesn’t depend on us,” said Indian skipper Virat Kohli in response to a question on whether India will be playing practice games against county teams.
“We obviously wanted first-class games, which I believe have not been given to us. I don’t know what the reasons for that are,” said Kohli.
The intra-squad, expected to be two in number, will be played next month with the 24 members barely making two teams. India also have the option of calling up some players like former India opener Faiz Fazal and Mumbai batsman Siddhesh Lad who are playing league cricket in the United Kingdom at least to add to the squad for intra-squad warm-up matches.
Some of the other top Indian international players like Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Hardik Pandya among others, will be busy playing white-ball series in Sri Lanka during July and won’t be able to make it to England.
It then looks likely that the team will have to prepare with what they have in England. At best, those intra-squad games will be glorified nets.
“I think our preparation time will be ample for us to be ready for the first Test,” said Kohli.
However, as was proved by the loss in the WTC final, before which the Indians played an intra-squad game, a preparation without competitive games against county teams isn’t enough.
BCCI may have known it but then it doesn’t seem to have the heft to push its case with the ECB or the ICC.