Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Extinction of Practice matches in cricket

There was a time in cricket when playing practice matches before every tour was mandatory. Players arrived the country several days before and played 2-3 practice matches before facing the host nation. But now apart from tours of Australia and England, practice matches are usually ignored. It may be attributed to the very tight schedule the international players have nowadays that there is no time left for these non-evaluative practice matches. But then these are the same players who crib about lack of practice or facilities or fatigue when they go down in the initial part of an overseas tour.

India was bowled out for 246 in their first day of the first test match against the West Indies yesterday. Top scorers for India were Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh while the fresh star arrivals Laxman, Dhoni and Dravid struggled even though Dravid managed 40 runs. This scenario shows the fact that only those players looked comfortable who had played matches in the carribean while the new arrivals who were short of match practice struggled. Laxman and Dravid may well get used to the conditions by the second test but by then they might have lost to a below par West Indies team.

This shows the importance of practice matches. There was hue and cry by the Indians over the sub-standard practice facilities and a dangerous practice strip but if there had been even a single practice game before this test match. the situation might have been different. In this era of slambang cricket, Test cricket still holds fort as the purest form of cricket. But due to lack of practice matches, touring teams are not able to do justice to their abilities and what we see are top class players struggling and low quality cricket being played. Even if the players arrive a week before and practice in the nets for 6 days, that will not help them the way a 4-day practice game helps them. Practice games are necessary and must be revived as soon as possible.

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