Questioning Australia’s decision to not play any warm-up games ahead of the World Test Championship final against India and the Ashes series, former captain Allan Border said the move is “fraught with danger”.
The WTC final is scheduled to be held at The Oval in London from June 7-11, following which Australia will take on arch-rivals England in the five-match Ashes from June 16 to July 31.
The Australian team will prepare for the six Tests by undergoing a high-intensity training camp in Beckenham, featuring centre-wicket practice and net sessions. “I don’t care how hard you work in the nets, nothing replaces game time,” Border told ‘ Fox Cricket‘.
“It just doesn’t feel right not to play any cricket leading into an Ashes series. I just think that’s fraught with danger… there’s something gnawing at me saying it’s the wrong decision,” he added.
The Indian team too won’t play any warm-up game as the English County Championship is on and also the WTC being an ICC event, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is under no obligation to arrange practice matches for the visiting teams.
However, it will be the first time in Ashes history that the men from ‘Down Under’ won’t face any local county sides before or during this winter’s tour of England. Even before the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in India earlier this year, Australia had opted for simulation training instead of playing warm-up games. The visitors had ended up losing the fixture 1-2.
“I’m really surprised we’re just allowing the Ashes tour to be so condensed with no cricket between the games, but that’s the way it is. I get it, we’ve got IPLs and T20s, I understand. The game’s moved on. But I think there’s an opportunity there for us to go to England early and play a couple of games… just to polish things off a bit,” Border added.
To ensure England’s Test players are available for The Hundred tournament, which is slated to begin early August, the ECB has crammed the Ashes into a six-week window.
While the likes of Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Marcus Harris have been playing the County Championship, those players in India will head to England after wrapping up their IPL stints.
The other members of Australia’s Test squad have recently completed a three-day training camp in Brisbane and will head to England later this week.