By: Melvin Samuel
Former Australia skipper Steve Smith says his team is better off training on its 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, who won the country’s best men’s player award for the fourth time in his career on Monday, said nets sessions would benefit his side more than the tour games.
The 18-member squad, led by Pat Cummins, had a pre-series camp on spin-friendly tracks in Sydney and will have a week-long stint in Bengaluru before the first Test in Nagpur on February 9.
“We normally have two tour games over in England. This time we don’t have a tour game in India,” Smith was quoted as saying by news.com.au on Monday ahead of the team’s departure to India.
“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, who beat Travis Head and David Warner to win the Allan Border medal on Monday.
Australia have been criticised for not including tour games, which are an integral part of a long series, in their itinerary. But Smith said rigorous nets sessions will help spinners train better.
“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 a lot of thinking had 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.” The Australians had a training session in Sydney last week on pitches that had significant cracks to replicate Indian conditions.
“It’s (the Test series in India) certainly huge. I don’t know if it’s (winning in India) the final frontier. I’ve never won there, I’ve been there twice (for Tests), it’s always difficult playing there. We’ve got some challenges in front of us, but the guys are ready for it,” added Smith.