Before the war, the battle has begun. It was not the Madhavrao Scindia Stadium practice wickets that Andrew Flintoff was cheesed off with, but cricket balls flying towards the nets where the England team was training on Thursday morning.
India’s nets started with Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir and even though the in-form latter did not hit too many balls in the air, the India vice-captain was blazing all guns with the ball flying to all corners of the park with the broadcaster’s crew, groundsmen and the English team constantly having to mind their heads. One such off Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s bat missed the allrounder and not by much. Flintoff did have something to say about it and India’s bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad was the closest to him.
He then went up to Prasad and had a few words. A short while later, managers Andrew Walpole and Russel Radhakrishnan were seen talking as the nets went on uninterrupted.
“I did not see what happened. I was batting then,” skipper Kevin Pietersen said. “I did see them speaking but I have to ask my teammates after the nets and find out.”
Dhoni remarked : “With hard hitting batsmen in both sides, these things can happen. There is nothing much in this.”
All Prasad had to say about what Flintoff told him was: “We were meeting after a long time and so we exchanged pleasantries.” No pun intended, one hopes. The problem however was, when there are two sides training at the same time, the nets should have part of the top covered so that the lofted shots hit towards mid-wicket or over cover, depending on which side of the ground a team is, can be arrested. The nets here did not have a roof.