Rahul Dravid wants cricket boards across the world to ensure that visiting teams are provided quality oppositions in warm-up matches ahead of Test tours, in a bid to avoid one-sided contests. The issue of lack of practice matches on tours has been brought up several times recently and Dravid said their decreasing number was a result of schedules and local teams being "reluctant" to put their best players out for the touring teams.
"It's like anything else, it has to be reciprocal, you have to work with other boards because nobody wants to see one-sided overseas results; you want to see close, exciting Test matches," Dravid told Cricketnext.com.
"I benefitted a lot from it in my career, playing solid first-class matches when I first started. When we went on tours it was a done thing that you practice and play first-class cricket. It seems to happen less and less nowadays, and not only India, it's less and less for every country. I remember Trevor Bayliss talking about it the last time the Ashes was held, I think they had a similar problem in Australia.
"[It's] because of the kind of schedules and the reluctance of first-class teams now to put their best players out for visiting teams, as probably was in the past, because first-class teams are playing a lot more cricket.
From an Indian perspective, recent overseas defeats in South Africa and England have been attributed to the lack of proper preparation ahead of the tours by former players like Sunil Gavaskar. He felt that India's preparation for the England Tests should have been more intense and to him it appeared that India had "not learnt anything" from the defeats in South Africa, where similar questions had emerged. India captain Virat Kohli, however, has differed on the matter, preferring his side to train and simulate match situations among themselves, rather than face second-string first-class opponents.
India had cancelled their only practice match before the first Test in Cape Town at the beginning of the year and shortened the one against Essex from four days to three before the England Tests. On both occasions, India found themselves 2-0 in the series before winning the third Test in both countries.
Being 2-0 down in South Africa, India's coach Ravi Shastri later admitted that 10 more days of preparation would have made a difference. After losing the Test series 4-1 in England, Shastri also clarified that contrary to popular belief, India were "absolutely not" against playing practice matches and the team management had, in fact, requested for two warm-ups before the Australia Tests.
Dravid felt that it would be "ideal" for India to do so if they could have a reciprocal arrangement with Australia.
"Ideally they should be playing that [practice matches]," Dravid said. "Definitely something India needs to look into, but even other teams need to co-operate. For example, if Australia can guarantee India two good practice matches, we should be able to do the same for them when they come here."