The build-up to the test series between Australia and India has certainly been an odd one. You would think that a pairing between two of the top cricketing nations would be the sole focus of not only the cricketing world, but also the actual players involved! However, cricket is a complex business these days, and the build-up to this series has been anything but straightforward.
There are two issues that are making the upcoming series a bit unusual. The first being star players not being involved in the preparations due to the Champions League T20, and the second is the farcical situation being presented by the Commonwealth Games.
The cricketing situation is certainly strange. In his weekly column, David Green relayed a fantastic quote from David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd in relation to the Champions League T20. He stated: “Bit baffled… Cricket on TV… teams made up of Saffas, Indians and WIs… what is it… what are they playing in?” Bumble’s confusion is spot-on, as no one can argue that international players playing for Indian franchises in South Africa isn’t an odd turn of events. But that, of course, is modern cricket. However, the effect on the upcoming test series is monumental. The situation for the Australian team is that two of their most important players, Doug Bollinger and Mike Hussey, are stuck in South Africa, representing Chennai, playing T20, whilst their test teammates are playing in Australia’s only warm-up game against an Indian Chairman’s XI. This is nothing short of farcical, however Australian coach Tim Nielsen has had to admit that he can do nothing to control the situation; he’s stuck with his lot.
At the same time India must be adversely affected by some of their players still being stuck playing the shorter form of the game in South Africa. However, most of their test team aren’t involved (though Suresh Raini absolutely should be). The Indian selectors must be thanking their lucky stars that Sachin Tendulkar’s Mumbai Indians got knocked out early, as Tendulkar is still the Ace in India’s deck, and his body isn’t getting any younger. Tendulkar will certainly be all the better for a bit of rest, something that I’m sure an ageing Mike Hussey must also be longing for.
The other factor affecting the lead-up to this series is the situation facing the Commonwealth Games. Much has been said and written about the crisis facing the organising committee, however surprisingly little has been reported about its effect on the test series. A couple of things about this strike me as odd. The first is that the two events would be scheduled for the same time. I know India’s population is enormous, but you would think that separating the two events would be better for supporters, security forces and the worldwide audience, as most viewers of both events will come from within the Commonwealth.
Finally, it is strange that nothing much has been said about the fact that touring cricket teams have enjoyed a vast improvement in conditions in the last few years, and that most report outstanding service and amenities when touring India. Perhaps the cricket board could have been called upon to provide advice on preparing for international sporting teams.
The series between Australia and India will, I’m sure, be a cracker, but the cricket had better be good, because there are a lot of distractions that must be firmly put behind as the players battle it out on the field.
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