Swaying alongside each other like Saturday night revellers at Cathedral Square,the trees at the Lincoln University campus are barely able to stay grounded,thanks to the strong wind. Indias bowling group at the end of their second straight four-and-a-half-hour net session in two days walked around gingerly,allowing the same strong gust that has made life so difficult to soothe their sweaty bodies.
Ever since India woke up to the reality of a New Zealand tour,the air has been heavy with the talk of conditions and the wind. Batsmen who have toured New Zealand before have spoken of their inability to keep their bats straight and bowlers have confessed that the heavy breeze has left them clueless. Making best use of the worst conditions,the Indians decided to take the wind head on.
While the batsmen were busy facing the net bowlers,the Indian bowlers lined up for an extended spell bowling into the wind at the central square. And since this was done after a hectic running session and fielding drills,the energy levels were touching a new low on this tour.
Less talk and more work seems to be on the agenda of the Indians ever since they have landed. There is a gag on the touring party,and even the press conferences are now scheduled for alternate days.
Coach Gary Kirsten had a meet-the-press day and he said,We stay away from too much talk. Talk is dangerous. What we are focused on is making sure that the guys are ready when they are needed to be. A lot of senior players who have been here pass on information that the younger ones need,even we pass on information that we can,but its the players who have to get the job done, he said.
Kirsten believes each member of the team should be prepared for the toughest test,and thats the reason the team havent yet decided who among the bowling group will have the wind on the back during match days.
You would have noticed today that we practise with all the bowlers going into the wind. What we said was that every bowler has got to do the hard yards some day. Its not easy. We are prepared for that. Its really just adapting to the situation, he said.
Talk to locals and they speak about how bowling against the wind too is an art. The strong force that slows the speed of the ball also helps the ball to swing. But for those who dont get it right the risks are high. This was evident from the exasperated look on the bowlers faces who,after running into the wind,find even a mishit sail with the breeze over the fence.
But the batsman in Kirsten makes a fair point that batting isnt as simple as it looks either. The ball holds its shape a little bit more when it is against the wind. From a batting perspective,you feel like you have got to hold your shape a little bit longer, says the coach.
What theres little doubt about is that the players know now that theyre in for a fight as they moved towards the bus dragging their kit bags with one hand and holding on to their caps with the other,the harsh reality of cricket in New Zealand was blowing strongly across their faces.