The Board of Control for Cricket in India has apparently become a huge fan of Test cricket. Schedules are being altered to slot in Tests, key players are being rested to keep them fresh for the longest format, and now, the board has agreed to send a group of Test players early to South Africa to get acclimatised ahead of the gruelling tour.
The upcoming New Zealand tour to India will end on December 10, and India are scheduled to play their first Test against South Africa on December 16 at Centurion, leaving them with no time for any practice matches. As there's no time to slot in practice matches to help the players acclimatise to the quick and bouncy South African tracks, the team management had approached the board with an idea to fly out some key players early to get used to the conditions.
Ratnakar Shetty, the BCCI's chief administrative officer, confirmed the development to cricinfo.com, saying the request had come from coach Gary Kirsten. “The plan now is to send some of the Test players early. The team management and the coach expressed the desire that there's a need for acclimatisation in South Africa,” Shetty said.
While it's still not clear as to how many players will depart early, they are likely to fly out after the three-Test series finishes on October 24.
Even as one would find a lot of merit in the board agreeing to send out the players early, it's difficult to turn a blind eye to the ridiculous schedule. How could there be no practice match slotted when the team is travelling to as different conditions as in South Africa.
And that, too, when the team will be fighting to retain their No. 1 ranking and looking to post their first ever win in South Africa.