Team India to play intra-squad games in Durham before England Tests: Reports
Virat Kohli-led Team India will be playing a couple of intra-squad games in Durham before squaring off against Joe Root’s England in the five-match Test series which begins in August 2021. The touring party is unlikely to get any warm-up first-class games against the county sides before heading into the series.
As reported by news agency PTI, the BCCI had requested England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for a few practice games. However, the Covid-19 situation won’t allow any such plan to go ahead. Captain Kohli had also expressed his displeasure over not being given any first-class games before the England series, starting in Nottingham on August 4.
“Due to COVID-19 protocols, they will play two intra-squad four-day matches before the first Test in August,” an ECB spokesperson told PTI.
Asked if there is any chance of a game against county sides, the spokesperson said, “No”.
In England, cricketers from various counties are regularly being tested for COVID but are not being kept in any bubble. The Indian team, once it assembles in London on July 14 and moves to Durham, will once again be in a bubble.
“The domestic cricketers of England not being in a bubble is an issue for sure. That's why the games in Durham will be intra-squad ones,” a BCCI official said on conditions of anonymity.
India are currently travelling with 24 players – 20 in the official squad and four backup players – which will allow them to play intra-squad games. However, several cricket experts, including former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar, have questioned the amount of preparedness provided by a simulated match.
The touring teams, in the past, have played multiple first-class games against county sides. In simulated matches, a player can bat again if he gets out quickly unlike a proper first-class match.
(With PTI Inputs)