Team India is all set to face England at home in a five-match Test series. After the Test series against South Africa, India is again up for another Test series. After a long break, Test cricket is coming back to India. Ahead of the first match of the Test series against England, Team India is practicing hard. The first Test match is scheduled to happen on January 25 in Hyderabad. Before that, Rahul Dravid prioritizes playing against the quality opponents during tours in recent days.
Rahul Dravid’s Words:
Ahead of India’s first Test against England in Hyderabad, Dravid highlighted the value of facing high-quality opponents during overseas tours. India has adopted a strategy of using their touring members as opposition in recent overseas tours to ensure a more challenging and beneficial practice environment than what host associations might offer. Dravid’s focus is on ensuring teams are well-prepared by facing strong competition in practice ahead of important Test series.
On this matter, Dravid said, “One of the things that’s been a challenge actually, to be very honest, is to get the right preparation for Test teams. Something I have felt as well. Just at times the quality of the sides you get to play in places. It’s not like the old days when I first started; you went to county cricket, professionals would be playing against you, the best players would be playing against you. That’s changed a lot.”
Later he added, “Maybe it’s because of the amount of cricket or I don’t know what’s the reason but certainly we have seen a dip in the quality of the tour teams. I think that can sometimes be quite frustrating from a coach’s perspective. Then the coaches have to be unique about how to prepare, what they think is the best form of preparation. On our last tour of South Africa, we played an intra-squad game. We had our A team there at the same time and we felt that if we could mix the teams up in such a way that Jasprit Bumrah is bowling to Virat Kohli, or someone like Siraj is bowling to Rohit Sharma, we would give ourselves the best chance at practice in terms of quality of opposition.”
On Long Test series and other matters:
Comparing previous years to recent times, the India A team is getting more chances to play against quality players. Recently, the India A team has been playing against the England Lions. That series will be extremely helpful for the player’s career. Players like KS Bharat, who played outstandingly in the first match got a chance to play the first two Tests against England.
On this matter, Dravid said, “To be very honest and I was speaking to Ajit [about this], but I thought England would come and play one of the A games with some of their players. We put out a very competitive A team, pulled a lot of our players out of the Ranji teams so that they get to play A team cricket. Lot of our guys who are pushing for selection for this team [were picked as well]. So we are trying to put out competitive teams for oppositions when they come out here to play tour games, hoping that that will be reciprocated when we go there.”
Later he added, “That’s one of the important things as a coach; I do feel that if you want a competitive series, one of the big challenges for teams is to prepare for overseas conditions. And everyone wants to see where both teams are competitive, so we need to help teams prepare well. I think as a policy, certainly me and Ajit were discussing, that we would like to put out competitive teams for people when they come here hoping that it will be reciprocated.”
The five-match Test series is a long one. With that series, Team India is starting their World Test Championship journey in 2024. This series is going to make a big impact over the points table of the World Test Championship. Dravid said, “I think we can’t focus on the WTC at this stage. I think we will focus on this series and this Test, and play what’s in front of us. Which is honestly this particular Test match. The moment we start thinking about what’s ahead.. like I said, there’s a lot of cricket before we can think about the WTC. But we know that we are up against a very good team that’s played an exciting, different brand of cricket. And we know we have to respond to that and play well. They have very experienced players, may not be so much in the bowling attack that hasn’t come here that much but certainly a lot of their batters have been here many times during the IPL, so they have a lot of exposure and experience in these conditions as a team. And they are playing well. We are looking forward to it.”