ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

World Cup 2011

How important is winning a warm-up match?

How important are warm-up matches, especially before a tournament as long as the World Cup? How do teams and players approach these games? Nagraj Gollapudi gets the views of those who've been there, done that.

Nagraj Gollapudi

February 16, 2011

Comments: 33 | Text size: A | A

Brett Lee cannot convince the umpire that Hashim Amla is out, Australia v South Africa, World Cup warm-up match, Bangalore, February 15, 2011
Brett Lee was animated in his appeals even though it was a warm-up match © Getty Images
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How does the intensity of a warm-up game compare to a competitive match?
MS Dhoni: It is very difficult to prepare mentally to play in a warm-up game - especially after what we saw in the 2007 World Cup, where we had two good warm-up matches and after that I don't know where we were. I think it's because of the amount of games that we play because if you play 35-odd ODIs in a year and 10 Test matches and 45 days of IPL and Champions League then all of a sudden when you hear that you have a warm-up game and 15 players are playing in that game, it is a very difficult scenario to mentally prepare yourself for the game.

Michael Clarke: These are exactly what they are supposed to be - practice games. It is important you try and maximise the chance to give everybody the opportunity to bat or bowl, have a run around and more importantly get used to the conditions we are going to play in throughout the tournament.

John Buchanan: There is sufficient intensity in there for them to be certainly better than a net session but it is nowhere near the same level of competition because there are actually points riding on the outcome of the game in the actual matches whereas in a trial game there is no specific outcome from getting a result, win or lose. So, certainly, once you move into the competition proper there is a different feel.

Hashim Amla: There is no doubt it is lovely to win, especially against a team like Australia, who are a very good team. The intensity was up there but we don't look too deep into it.

How important is winning in a warm-up?
Buchanan: It's different for different teams. Some might use most of the games as a means to providing competition to as many players as they possibly can. It gives an opportunity try the odd tactic or two. Obviously players returning from injuries get time to get settled in. The games also can be used to get acclimatised. Some teams will also want to see it as a means to develop some sort of confidence and momentum within the group so they may place a bit more importance on the result of the game. Some teams would like to take a degree of confidence from those games heading into the main rounds of the tournament.

Clarke: It's more about giving blokes an opportunity than the winning.

Amla: It's lovely to get some confidence, but we are playing 15 players in the warm-up matches. Winning against Australia was not about taking confidence from denying the Australia bowlers any wickets on Tuesday [in 46 overs]. We took confidence from the individual performances and the win.

Does a defeat hurt in any manner?
Ian Chappell: You don't try to lose but a loss doesn't hurt anywhere near as much as it does when the match counts.

Is there an advantage to be gained in holding back your best to retain the element of surprise for the business end of things?
Buchanan: It depends again on whether you believe your best players have had sufficient cricket coming into the tournament; then it sometimes is useful to not play them because what works in their best interest is to spend time away from game. There is no size that fits all, as everybody is in different positions approaching the tournament.

How much is it about gauging your opposition?
Buchanan: The emphasis is totally on your own cricket really. It is all about your players being ready for the tournament. As far as studying the opposition goes, the warm-ups can be used to get a little bit of insight into one or two players you haven't seen too much of, but overall it is just about preparing yourself in getting ready for the competition.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 33 
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Posted by Michael on (February 18, 2011, 10:44 GMT)

well this is my perssonal thought warm up games are good for the other countiers visted to subcontinent teams like INDA/SRILANKA/PAKISTAN/BANGLADESH they may feel warm games are not importent ...there is nothing wrong on that ..mean time if the tournament in ENGLAND/AUS /SA OR WEST INDIES same team will say we didnt get enough warmup games its goes both ways ....well get ready for the 2011 WORLD CUP like to see some suprises....

Posted by django on (February 17, 2011, 13:35 GMT)

@Sahana Guraraj, WRONG - do you think Smith and Amla didnt get confidence after seeing off the best pace attack in the world cup? I would if I was them. Of course they are important. You are playing the same opponents who you will be playing for the WC. Beating an opponent out in the middle gives you an edge over them. Its not like the teams are playing state sides, they are playing against the real deal.

Posted by Nataraaj on (February 17, 2011, 13:23 GMT)

These warm up match wins boost the morale of the team ahead of WC. India will go to WC with their batsman in form. sachin, sehwag,Gambhir, kohli, Raina,Yusuf pathan,Dhoni, Harbajan,Zaheer, Munaf,chawla , should be the playing XI. there is no place for yuvaraj simply because Raina is in great nick and you cannot keep him out at any point of time. ofcourse yuvaraj is bowling well but it's not enough for yuvaraj to get a place.. we need yuvaraj to find his golden touch with the bat. since we have yusuf pathan, Raina and golden arm sachin to share the 5th bowling option.sorry yuvaraj wait for you luck.

Posted by Rajneesh on (February 17, 2011, 11:43 GMT)

The only reason India won't win the world cup is because of its people. Everybody have 2 penny worth of thoughts on what and what not should be done. Please respect the competetion, sit back and enjoy the World cup. Stop this paralysis by analysis.

Posted by Roger on (February 17, 2011, 10:54 GMT)

MS Dhoni is the best ever captain of India. Best wishes to him for a successful World Cup.

Posted by Cricket on (February 17, 2011, 10:29 GMT)

I like Dhoni but nowadays he comments like Indian politicians. I dont know whats hidden there in his comments. Its Unfair to say just 2 warm up games gives you mental pressure when you play twenties(no. of) of T20 matches for $$$$ every year.

Posted by kumar on (February 17, 2011, 7:11 GMT)

Seems like India doesn't know the purpose warm up matches , becoz BCCI never scheduled any warm up games in away series recently.

Posted by Iqbal on (February 17, 2011, 7:05 GMT)

These games are worth all the time and effort put in by everyone. It really should be seen as an opportunity by the participating teams to sharpen their skills (many of them might have become rusty due to lack of enough games hortly before the tournament or they might have become too laxed as a result of a run of recent successes)....and, in the process, gauge the kind of opposition they may encounter in the main round. Furthermore, there is every chance of someone getting injured during the tournament, and a particular team might have to bring in players who otherwise would be sitting on the sidelines. These 'warm up' games are the ideal forum for invaluable match practise for the reserve players. So, all in all, these matches are of definite value and consequence in the overall scenario.

Posted by Siddhant on (February 17, 2011, 5:45 GMT)

Not important at all. International players now get a lot of exposure to climate and pitches wrt IPL / Champions League. And having international coaches and experts to assist them. India-NZ was not required.

Posted by ashok on (February 17, 2011, 5:10 GMT)

There is only a small difference between confidence and over confidence, we will win is confidence, we will definitely win as we already won in Warm up stuff is over confidence.

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