Australia's 'ridiculous' move back in the spotlight after ODI series victory

The Aussies' win over India in the three-game ODI series has once again raised questions about their preparation.

Pat Cummins, pictured here alongside Australia's ODI players.
Australia's preparation for their tour of India has once again been called into question after their ODI series win. Image: Getty

Australia's ODI series victory over India has once again brought their preparation for the tour into the spotlight after they opted against playing any lead-up games prior to the Test matches. The Aussies won the third ODI by 21 runs on Wednesday to claim a 2-1 series victory, which came after they lost the four-Test series by the same 2-1 margin.

In seven matches across both formats, Australia and India both won three (with the fourth Test finishing a draw). But if you take out the first two Tests in which Australia were comprehensively beaten, the tourists actually finished 3-1 up.

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Across the final five matches of the tour, Australia won three, India won one and the other was a draw. That fact has once again raised questions about whether the Aussies were adequately prepared for the Indian conditions, with plenty of spin and inconsistent bounce on display during the first three Tests.

As renowned statistician Ric Finlay pointed out on Twitter: "Australia’s last five matches in India produce three wins, a draw and a loss. I wonder if a decent period of acclimatisation there prior to the first match might have brought that sort of record forward a bit…"

Former captain Michael Clarke was among the many to criticise Australia's preparation for India after they decided against playing any tour games. The Aussies thought they were better served training in conditions that they could control, rather than being at the mercy of the curator of the pitch for a tour game.

As Steve Smith pointed out, the Aussies have been stitched up in previous tours when curators have purposely produced pitches that haven't been similar to those expected for the actual series. While Tests against India are usually played on spin-friendly pitches, curators will often prepare green, seaming wickets during tour games.

Aussie players, pictured here with the trophy after their ODI series win over India.
Aussie players celebrate with the trophy after their ODI series win over India. (Photo by Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)

However the lack of a tour game appeared to backfire brutally when India stormed to a 2-0 series lead and retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy in less than six days of Test cricket. Australia lost the first Test by an innings and 132 runs before going down by six wickets in the second.

Clarke described Australia's decision to forego a tour game 'ridiculous', adding: “I think the bit that gets me about it all is - and we talked about it before the series started - were they as well prepared as they could be? And the general consensus, if you talk to anyone on the street, is no, they weren’t.

“No practice game, no tour match, turn up ... and got dusted in a manner people are pretty disappointed about. Say what you want, they got smoked. India are a pretty good team in their country, but I just don’t think they were prepared well enough.”

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Aussie coach Andrew McDonald later responded: "I still wouldn't have changed what we did leading in, there's no doubt about that. I think they had really good preparation in Bangalore, so there's not any excuses.

"At the end of day two (in the second Test), if you said our preparation was good, you'd probably have a different slant on it, but within an hour then people start to critique what happened in the past. I don't think that had a great bearing on what happened in that hour, we were prepared for that, and day three, as well as we could have been and we failed under the examination of India."

Some have also questioned whether the Aussies would be better served with Smith as captain rather than Pat Cummins. Australia's change in fortunes also coincided with Cummins' decision to leave India for Australia to be with his sick mother, who passed away before the fourth Test.

However the Aussies' turnaround appears more to do with Smith's vast experience in India (three tours) rather than any deficiencies with Cummins. The fast bowler will undoubtedly take back the reins when the Aussies play India again in the World Test Championship final at The Oval in June, before a blockbuster Ashes series gets underway later that month.

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