India head coach Ravi Shastri has requested the BCCI to organize a couple of warm-up matches ahead of India’s four-match Test series against Australia which is scheduled to begin on December 6. Before the series against England India had decided to opt for just one warm-up game against Essex. However, speaking to ESPNcricinfo Shastri revealed that he had indeed asked the Indian board to plan the schedule so that the Indian team can get acclimatized to the conditions before heading into the highly-anticipated series.
Stating that he is not opposed to the idea of practice matches, Shastri said, “Why would we be? You can only see the results (in the England Tests). Every time after the second Test we have improved. You can still get better. But why can’t we be in that position in the first Test match?”. But he was also quick to point out that a tight international calendar might be a deterrent to the plans.
“If you have two or three games against weaker sides we don’t mind because it is a game,” Shastri remarked. “But when you have a schedule as tight as this and when you have a memorandum of understanding that has already been formulated, with a choc-a-bloc calendar, there is very little you can do. Now, we have requested for a couple of (warm-up) games in Australia before the Test series. But is there space (to play those matches)? That is the question.”
“Ideally we would want two three- or four-day games before a Test series,” Shastri said. “But do you have the time? For example, we have a T20 series in Australia preceding the Test series. There is a 10-day gap before the first Test. These are things that have been approved earlier. It is not in our control.”
Backing his support staff the 56-year-old Indian coach also stated that he was unruffled by the criticism coming along his way. “I head back home with a very positive state of mind. I know exactly what we do. I know exactly and clearly where the team is heading – it is heading in the right direction.”
“People are entitled to their opinions. As long as we know the job we are doing and we are honest to our jobs, as long as support staff we are helping players channelise their energies in the right direction, we are not worried about what critics say,” he said.
Ravi Shastri on Sam Curran’s contribution
Shastri also appreciated Sam Curran’s contribution in the just concluded Test series, which proved to be very vital at crucial junctures. “I would not say (we) failed badly. But we tried. We must give credit where it is due. Virat and me were asked to pick the Man of the Series (for England) and we both picked Sam Curran. Look where Curran has scored, and, that is where he hurt us. More than England, it was Curran who hurt us.”
He also highlighted the important innings played by the England all-rounder in the second innings of the first Test at Edgabston and the first innings at Southampton. “In the first Test, England were 87 for 7 (in the second innings) at Edgbaston, he (Curran) got the runs. In the fourth Test, they were 86 for 6 (first innings) in Southampton, he got the runs. We were 50 for 0 (first innings) at Edgbaston, he got the wickets. So at crucial stages in this series, he chipped in with runs and wickets. That was the difference between the two sides,” Shastri added.