Warm-up games not essential - Kirsten
Gary Kirsten, India's coach, has joined Virender Sehwag in saying that a warm-up game is not really necessary on a tour. India's 48-day tour of New Zealand doesn't include a tour game, and the schedule was criticised by former players.
"For me, it is a bit of a myth about having to go and have a warm-up game," Kirsten said. "It can work and it can't work. I, as an individual, couldn't stand warm-up games because the tour became that much longer."
India have been slow starters on tours, often turning out cold on the first day. But Sehwag said that there was no point wasting the good form on tour games. He has found a friend in his coach.
"I just believed that if I could get enough preparation, I was experienced enough in my own thinking to go straight into Test cricket after a few nets," Kirsten said. "But the general rule is that you have got to have a warm-up game. We have come on this tour, and we didn't have any warm-up games. Yes, one could argue that we were a bit under-cooked in the Twenty20 games.
"I was very happy that we had two Twenty20 games upfront because it gave us a chance to settle down. You will find that at the beginning of tours, the visiting team always inevitably struggles. I remember when I came here with South Africa, they sent us down to Dunedin, it was about 4 degrees and we never won a game. Equally, when a team comes to South Africa, they get sent to Kimberley in 38 degree heat and they never win a game there. Some people enjoy a bit of game time, others don't mind it."
But Rahul Dravid, for one, felt differently. In the past, he has termed the circumstance of walking straight into a Test match not ideal, but unavoidable. But Kirsten said Dravid and the other Test specialists wouldn't have much reason to complain about their preparations.
"The one issue we have had is that some guys feel they need game time if they haven't had much game time back home," Kirsten said. "All the Test players have played a lot of cricket back home at the moment. So they have had the game time. Dravid has come off a couple of hundreds in the Duleep Trophy and he has got a hundred here [for Canterbury]. He is in game mode already.
"We went to Sri Lanka last year and our Test players didn't have much game time because there wasn't any cricket on in India. We felt we were a bit under-cooked in that series. I guess game time is important, it doesn't necessarily have to be on the tour."
India take on New Zealand in the fifth ODI in Auckland on Saturday before the first Test begins in Hamilton on March 18.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo