Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann has expressed serious reservations over his country not playing tour matches ahead of the World Test Championship final against India and the gruelling Ashes, saying the decision was fraught with risks.
Australia did not also play a single tour game in India ahead of the Border-Gavaskar series in February-March, primarily because their board felt that playing practice games on green tops and actual matches on spinning tracks did not serve any purpose.
However, Lehmann felt that not playing tour games in foreign conditions is a risky proposition.
“You need games to acclimatise first and foremost,” Lehmann, who served as Australia coach from 2013 to 2018, told ‘SEN Radio’.
“To get used to the ball and wickets and pressure. No tour game is not a good idea. I hope it works but if it doesn’t, ‘who made that decision’ will be asked. I think we win the Ashes anyway 3-1 but if we don’t, wow,” the former Australia player added.
The World Test Championship final between India and Australia will be played at The Oval in London from June 7-12. There is a provision for a reserve day.
Four days after the WTC final, the first Ashes Test will be played at Edgbaston from June 16.
Traditionally, teams touring England play county sides but of late, tour matches are being given a short shrift as cricket schedules around the world get tighter due to the proliferation of T20 leagues.
Australia played an internal two-day game before the first Test in 2019, while in 2015 and 2013, the touring side played two four-day games ahead of the Ashes.
This time around, the Australian team has opted for team bonding sessions in Liverpool and net sessions in London, instead of proper practice matches.
Australia chief selector George Bailey said recently that not playing tour games will not affect the team’s preparations.
“It feels like this is becoming the norm for Test tours, around tour games,” Bailey had said.
“It feels like there’s more tours that you don’t have a tour match than when you do, so our team’s reasonably well prepared in terms of knowing what you need outside of those tours and the opportunities that may have happened on past tours.”
This is the first time that Australia have not scheduled a single warm-up match during the entire tour, a big departure from Sir Donald Bradman’s ‘Invincibles’, which played 12 matches before the first Test during the the 1948 Ashes.