As they get ready for the start of the Border-Gavaskar Test series next week, divergent voices have emerged from the Australian camp and former players about the team going directly into the first Test in Nagpur without playing a tour match.
Former captain and key batter, Steve Smith, is one of those who support this move not to have a tour match, claiming them to be “irrelevant” as the tourists usually get to play the Test matches on tracks that are completely opposite to those provided for tour games. He said that Australians would gain more training at the mini-camp at Alur near Bengaluru than playing the tour game.
But India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has dismissed Smith’s comments as “mind games” that the Aussies usually play ahead of key tours.
“We normally have two tour games over in England. This time we don’t have a tour game in India. The last time (2017) we went 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,” Smith was quoted as saying by the Australian media ahead of the tour.
Smith said, ‘We got a green wicket in Brabourne and a completely opposite one in the first Test (during the 2017 series). In all fairness, it was a rank-turner in Pune.”
Ashwin admitted that playing tour games becomes too much as tours are so packed but felt that they do have some relevance.
“Australia is not playing any tour matches this time. This is not new. Even India avoids tour games when they go on a few overseas tours. Since Team India’s schedule is packed with international games, it is not possible to turn up for practice games with the same intensity,” Ashwin said while previewing the Border-Gavaskar Trophy on his YouTube channel.
“We might have given them a green track, but nobody plans all these things. However, Australia is known for its mind games and sleds before a series. They love doing that. It’s their style of cricket,” Ashwin added.
The 2023 Border-Gavaskar Series comprises four Tests with the first one at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium in Nagpur from February 9-13. The second Test will be played in New Delhi followed by the third at Dharamshala and the final one at Ahmedabad.
The Australians are expecting rank-turners in all venues and are currently practicing their sweep shots in Bengaluru.