Stunned by the rout in England, India are taking no chances with their preparation for the Australia tour next month. Sources have indicated that the Indian cricket board is looking at a suggestion to send their key Test players early to Australia to prepare well for the tough series. A final word should come once the BCCI bigwigs, who are out of the country, return.
If given the go ahead, seven to eight players will leave for Australia on December 8, four days ahead of schedule. They will be based in Melbourne, preparing for the Test series, and leave for Canberra on the 13th to play the two warm-up games.
The players who take part in the one-day series against West Indies will be flying out on December 12 from Chennai to Sydney, from where they will proceed to Canberra. The last ODI is in Chennai on December 11.
It is likely that even some of the senior players who play all formats of the game, like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni, are rested from the final leg of the ODI series to allow them to leave early. However, there is uncertainty over batting mainstay Rahul Dravid's travel plans. He has retired from one-day cricket but is the recipient of the Polly Umrigar award and may have to delay his departure to attend the BCCI's awards function, to be held in Chennai on December 10.
In the original schedule, India were to play only one warm-up game before the four-Test series, but after the debacle in England an extra game was added on former skipper Anil Kumble's suggestion.
Before the 2010-11 South Africa tour too, India had reached Cape Town a week in advance to prepare for the Test series, at the insistence of the then coach Gary Kirsten. It paid dividends with India managing their best-ever result there, winning the second Test to share the three-Test series 1-1.
The emphasis on preparing well has dawned on those concerned after the humiliating experience in England. Lack of preparation was seen as the main cause of the debacle.