Former batsman Dilip Vengsarkar believes that, across the past decade, BCCI have been guilty of not arranging enough warm-up matches prior to overseas tours and feels that lack of practice has hurt the side. Vengsarkar further advised batters to shun the flashy drive in English conditions.
In some cases, warm-up matches are seen as an audition for the whole squad, but more often than not practice games are arranged to allow the visiting side to get acclimatized to the conditions. Team India, for instance, last year, played two warm-up games prior to the Australia Tests and the matches eventually ended up doing a world of good. Contrastingly, back in 2018, Kohli and Co. entered the three-Test series versus South Africa with no warm-up games under their belt and the lack of practice hurt the side as they went on to lose the series 2-1.
The pandemic has thrown its own challenges, and it is one of the reasons why India will enter the WTC Final with no practice, but Dilip Vengsarkar reckoned that the BCCI, across the past decade, have been guilty of not arranging enough warm-up matches. Vengsarkar stressed that net sessions can never match the intensity of actual matches, and claimed that the BCCI’s failure to schedule warm-up games has been a problem.
"It's important to have matches. You have practice (net sessions), but the important thing is to have matches and spend time in the middle, not just for the batsmen, but for the fast bowlers and spinners as well. By spending time in the middle, they know what length to hit,” Vengsarkar was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
"That has been a problem for the past 10 years now. Look, when you go to Australia, England, and New Zealand, the conditions are so different. You need practice matches to get acclimated to the conditions.
"So it's important for the BCCI also to organise more practice matches rather than having just one practice game before the start of the Test series. Otherwise, you struggle in the first Test match."
It goes without saying that it will be the Indian batsmen who will be under immense pressure to perform, having failed the English test three years ago, but someone who they can take inspiration from is Vengsarkar. The 65-year-old, in his Test career, averaged 48 in England and struck four tons in 13 Tests en route mastering the art of playing versus the swinging ball. An ‘England expert’, Vengsarkar claimed that patience and discipline is key, and advised the Indian batsmen to do away with the extravagant drive, which he reckoned is not a percentage shot in English conditions
"The thing is that once you get acclimatized, the important factor is that, to counter the extra movement, especially off the wicket, it’s important to stay side-on (batting stance). Don’t go for big drives to start with because the ball moves quite a bit and if you go for a big drive when you see a half volley, you are likely to end up in slips or anywhere. So just push the ball rather than going for the big drives," Vengsarkar said.
"In England sometimes you get overcast conditions and the ball starts moving, then suddenly you get sunshine and it becomes a good batting wicket. You get different seasons in one day in England. So, you, as a batsman, are never settled. In India, once you are set and score 30 plus runs, you can score a big innings. But that doesn’t happen in England. You are never set as such, you know. The ball moves around quite a bit and you have to be careful."