Alex Carey has defended Australia's decision not to play a tour game before the first Test against India, a move that former captain Michael Clarke has labelled 'ridiculous'. The Aussies arrived in India this week ahead of the first Test on February 9, and have opted to alter their preparations from previous series.
While the Aussies would normally play a practice game in the lead-up to an overseas tour, they've instead chosen to focus on their training because of the conditions they usually see during tour games. The pitches that will be used for the four Tests are bound to be dry and promote spin, but groundsmen in the past have opted to use green pitches for tour games so the Aussies can't prepare properly.
The Aussie side practiced on a number of scarred and cracked pitches at the SCG last week that they prepared themselves. They will do the same at their training base in Bangalore before the first Test begins in Nagpur on Thursday.
"The guys that have been here in the past probably had more of a say, but it's great to be able to have the facilities we do have," Carey said on Friday. "Lots of centre-wicket (practice), more of a closed environment where you can hone your skills.
"The wickets are spinning out here as well, so it's a great way to lead up. A lot of the guys are coming off some Big Bash cricket, so a little tweak into the red ball. But the way the guys started yesterday has been fantastic."
Steve Smith revealed last week that Australia's decision to forgo a tour game stems from being dudded by overseas groundsmen in the past. Instead of preparing pitches that will help the Aussies acclimatise to the conditions, groundsmen have gone the complete other way.
“We normally have two tour games over in England. This time we don’t have a tour game in India,” Smith said. “The last time we went I‘m pretty sure we got served up a green-top 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. 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 and we barely faced any spin, so it‘s kind of irrelevant. We‘re better off having our own nets and getting spinners in and bowling as much as they can.”
The situation Smith is referring to also occurred in Sri Lanka last year when the Aussies drew the series 1-1. They were given seaming practice wickets to prepare on ahead of two Tests played entirely on spinning tracks.
Michael Clarke's criticism of tour game decision
Speaking before Carey and Smith's explanation, former Aussie captain Clarke slammed the decision to forego a practice match as 'ridiculous'. He said on Sky Sports radio: “The no tour game before the first Test in India. I hope I’m proven wrong but I think that is going to be significant.
"Batting in those conditions in one-day cricket and T20 cricket is one thing, batting in Indian conditions in Test cricket it is a completely different game. You need a completely different plan to what you have playing in Australia, the way you start your innings against spin bowling, the way you play reverse swing, through the Australian summer we didn’t see any reverse swing, the games were over in two, three days.
“So reverse swing is going to play a big part (in India), all these batters that walk out and play bowlers bowling 130-140 km/h – there’s every chance India is going to play at least two spinners, so it’s a completely different game."
— Louis Cameron (@LouisDBCameron) February 2, 2023
The Aussies have been using a host of local net bowlers in an attempt to mirror the threats posed by India's attack, including spin duo Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. But Carey said the Aussies are also aware of what both sides' quicks are capable of with the ball.
"Going to Pakistan (in March last year) it was a lot of spin talk and I found the reverse-swing ball difficult," the 31-year-old said. "I played a four-day game here in 2018 and a lot of talk was spin, but you probably forget a little bit how damaging both teams' fast bowlers are with the reverse-swinging ball and a wicket that might be a little bit up and down."
Mahesh Pithiya grew up being called “Ashwin” owing to his uncanny impersonation of his idol @ashwinravi99 & he ended up ‘playing’ Ashwin for Australia in their first training session on tour & making a big impression on Steve Smith. Here’s how #IndvAus https://t.co/GnAd63DFN6 pic.twitter.com/BgNwOWGDC6
— Bharat Sundaresan (@beastieboy07) February 3, 2023
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