'Last time we got served a green top' - Smith defends abandoning tour game in India
"Hopefully, we get really good training facilities where the ball is likely to do what it's likely to do out in the middle"
Steven Smith has defended Australia's decision to not play a tour game ahead of their upcoming four-match Test series in India. He pointed out that during their last Test tour of the country in 2017, the only tour game was played on a "green top", which did not help them prepare for the kind of pitches they went on to face in the series.
"We normally have two tour games over in England. This time we don't have a tour game in India," Smith said at the Sydney airport before the team's departure for India. "The last time we went [to India], I'm pretty sure we got served up a green top [in the tour game], and it was sort of irrelevant.
"Hopefully, we get really good training facilities where the ball is likely to do what it's likely to do out in the middle, and we can get our practice in."
In the build-up to the India tour, members of the Australian Test squad not participating in the BBL had a preparatory camp in Sydney. There, the curators produced scuffed-up pitches to replicate Indian conditions.
"Often [there's] no real connection between that practice game into the first Test match. We feel as though we can control the surfaces here," Andrew McDonald, the Australia head coach, had said of the training pitches. "[We] get a bit more control in Bangalore to replicate what we're going to come up against and then we go into Nagpur fresh and hopefully it pays dividends at the back end.
Australia will arrive in Bengaluru, where they will train for five days before heading to Nagpur for the first Test, starting February 9.
"There's been assurances given [about pitches in Bengaluru]. We'll get there and most groundstaff around the world are pretty good at allowing us to get what we want. We'll wait and see."
Steven Smith: 'Better off having our own nets'
The Australians had faced India A in the tour game in 2017 at Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium. They had piled up 469 for 7 before declaring in the first innings, with Smith and Shaun Marsh racking up centuries. India A made 403 in reply, and the Australians were 110 for 4 when the match ended in a draw after three days.
In the Test series, Smith went on to score 499 runs - the most from either side - including three centuries, but India came from behind to win the series 2-1.
"We'll wait and see when we hit the ground. I think we've made the right decision to not play a tour match," Smith, who was not a part of the camp in Sydney as he was involved in the BBL with Sydney Sixers, said. "We're better off having our own nets and getting spinners in and bowling as much as they can."
Australia have not won a Test series in India since 2004, having lost each of the four series since.