With focus on Ashes, did India tour come at a wrong time for Australia?
Throughout the course of their tour of India, Australia’s focus has been on the upcoming Ashes series, leading to questions about the timing of this particular bilateral series.india vs australia 2017 Updated: Oct 13, 2017 18:44 IST
As Travis Head sat for the pre-match press conference ahead of the T20I series decider, he faced a barrage of questions from Australian journalists – not on the match against India, but on the Ashes. So much so that the team media officer interrupted, saying, “Something on tomorrow’s game too?”
The journalists’ curiosity was understandable as much of the talk ahead of the T20I series, and the India tour in general, focused on how Australia are going to fare after this tour in the Ashes against England, starting November 23.
The team selection for the series also reflected the same sentiment. Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were not rushed from injury rehab for the India tour. The former is currently playing in the JLT one-day Cup, Australia’s domestic ODI competition, while the latter will play in the Sheffield Shield commencing on October 26.
Another fast bowler, Pat Cummins was also rested for the T20I series and will play three Sheffield Shield matches for New South Wales in the lead up to the Ashes.
Even captain Steve Smith will play in the Sheffield Shield after returning just ahead of the T20I series, due to a shoulder strain. The Australian team doctor Richard Saw said an MRI scan ‘excluded serious injury’. He went on to add that “the best course of action is for him to not continue to aggravate his shoulder and allow it to recover”.
With Australian team not risking any of their top players for this India tour, it clearly shows where there priority lies. Ex-Australian player and current selector-on-tour Mark Waugh, in an interview, perhaps explained his sentiment on the tour quite clearly.
“It’s got to be said, it’s not an ideal time to be away from Australia,” Waugh told Sky Sports Radio on Thursday. “This series has been a bit spread out. It would have been better probably if it was a week or two shorter.”
He, however, quickly added: “This one-day tournament and T20 tournament has been to about eight different places, so there’s been a lot of travel. But they’re (players) coping pretty well.”
Even David Warner, who spoke about the tough schedule ahead of the second T20I in Guwahati, echoed a similar thought.
“I just know that when we are available, we are going to play. It’s a very tough schedule as it is for every single country. You have basically got to pick and choose and decide when to rest your big player…it’s quite hard as a player to understand why, but these things are put in place years in advance. That’s why I play the game and not sitting there trying to administer everything,” he said.
With teams focusing on their respective aims in terms of major series/tournaments, perhaps contextualising and scheduling a bilateral series properly should be the focus.