Virat Kohli and the Indian cricket team has had a very good home season and will be mentally pumped up, but with just a week to acclimatise in South Africa before the tough series against the Proteas, Indians could end up feeling underprepared.(PTI)
Virat Kohli and the Indian cricket team has had a very good home season and will be mentally pumped up, but with just a week to acclimatise in South Africa before the tough series against the Proteas, Indians could end up feeling underprepared.(PTI)

Why Indian cricket Board is making Virat Kohli’s team slog overtime at home

Indian cricket team swapped vital reconnaissance time in South Africa for a few low-voltage limited-overs matches against Sri Lanka cricket team, a case of bad scheduling by BCCI
By Somshuvra Laha | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON NOV 27, 2017 01:19 PM IST

New Delhi To get a good measure of Australia, England arrived 25 days before the first Ashes Test in Brisbane. India, currently the No 1 Test team, will get just over a week to get acclimatised to the South African summer after finishing a home winter series against Sri Lanka.

Read more | India vs Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Day 4 live updates, score

England played three warm-up games before the Gabba Test. If the schedule agreed to is followed, India will play just one two-day game in Paarl before the first Test in Cape Town, starting on Jan 5.

For all the hoopla over getting their preparation right before the three most important overseas tours -- South Africa, England and Australia -- falling in the same year, it seems India couldn’t have started on a more unprepared note.

WRONG PRIORITIES

That they swapped vital reconnaisance time in South Africa for a few low-voltage limited-overs matches against Sri Lanka doesn’t fit BCCI -- supposed to be the custodian of the game, especially Tests.

Chances in England shouldn’t dip because India are scheduled to play three T20Is and three ODIs there before the Test series begins in Edgbaston on August 1, 2018. The same though can’t be presumed for the tour of Australia later in 2018.

Playing a home series in October-November against West Indies --not a serious contender even at home now -- can’t be ideal preparation for Australia. Unless the BCCI insists on playing at least two warm-up games, the team may feel out of depth Down Under. A tight international calendar however has often not allowed India that time. But it’s due to BCCI’s own doing too.

BROADCASTERS’ PRESSURE

As pointed out by skipper Virat Kohli ahead of the Nagpur Test, India’s has been a truly cramped calendar, squeezing in home series against New Zealand and Sri Lanka in the period after the limited-overs tour of Australia when the ICC Future Tours Programme (FTP) had originally scheduled just one tour of Pakistan.

Instead of giving players rest, BCCI decided to squeeze every penny from the winter phase. A major reason behind this is the six-year deal worth R 3851 crore made between Star Group and the BCCI in April, 2012.

According to the deal, a total of 96 matches at home were to be covered between July 2012 and March 2018. After the completion of the Australia series in October, India’s home match count was 93. With a Pakistan series out of question and India scheduled to play abroad till March (tour of South Africa followed by the Independence Cup in Sri Lanka), the BCCI would have essentially fallen short of their end of the deal.

SHOWING VISION

Adding to this is the need to give franchises their money’s worth in the Indian Premier League, leaving cricketers little time to breathe. Other top nations though are adopting a more flexible approach. Take for example this season’s Big Bash League --- the most popular franchise league after the IPL --- that starts in December without Australia’s biggest stars. And they are fine with it.

“In an ideal world we’d like to have all Australia players available, but it’s not something we see as crucial to the success of BBL,” league boss Anthony Everard was quoted as saying by the Herald Sun last year.

England too were playing Tests at home against South Africa and West Indies while the Natwest T20 Blast was taking place simultaneously. Only a handful of Test players like David Warner, Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Joe Root, Faf du Plessis and Dale Steyn are free to ply their trade in other country leagues but even then Root skipped this IPL to spend time with his newborn.

It remains to be seen when the BCCI adopts such a mature approach in the interest of the cricketers. But till then, cricketers seem destined to sing to the tune of franchises for two months and the broadcasters for the rest of the year.

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