Before the World Test Championship final at the Oval, players from India and Australia have to go straight from an IPL match to a Test match in England. This is a challenge that has never been faced by a group of players before. Former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson called the transition period “extreme.”
Modern players are used to switching formats quickly, but most of India’s team has to go from the IPL to a Test in England in just over a week. Shubman Gill, Ravindra Jadeja, and Mohammed Shami all played in the IPL final on Monday, giving them just over a week to get ready for the WTC final, which starts on Wednesday. Last English summer, Trent Boult played in the IPL final on May 29 and then played in a Test against England at Lord’s just four days later.
Cameron Green, an Australian, played for Mumbai in the IPL Qualifier on May 26 in Chennai. He then flew home to Perth, Western Australia, to see his partner after not having been there since January. He then flew to London before Australia’s first training session in Beckenham on Thursday. Since he has never played first-class cricket in England before, he only has five training sessions to get used to the weather.
David Warner also has to go from the IPL to a Test match in England in the shortest amount of time he has ever had to do so. The IPL ended on May 20, and Warner has to play in a Test match in England the next day. Josh Hazlewood’s last IPL game was on May 9. Australia’s officials have already told him he can’t play in the WTC final because he needs more time to get ready for the first Ashes Test, which starts next Thursday.
Watson knows how to switch between formats quickly because he played in the IPL in 2013 and 2015 before playing in both Ashes games, even though he had more time to prepare. He told the other players who were having the same problem to work hard in the nets to get used to the Dukes ball after two months of T20 cricket in India, where the conditions were very different.
Watson told ESPNcricinfo, “There’s no doubt that the guys are going to have to go through a tough time during this transition.” “Get as much volume as they can from facing new balls, trying to get the goals as exciting as possible.
“That’s the only way to get back into hitting the ball with your eyes closed. Yes, you need to be positive and bold, but you also need to know which balls you can score on and which ones are more dangerous.
Gill, Jadeja, and Shami, along with Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, and R Ashwin, played in the last WTC final in England in June 2021, after the IPL. But because the 2021 IPL was moved to May 2, they had more than a month to get ready, even though there were a lot of problems with Covid.
In 2014, 2018, and 2022, many of India’s stars went to England after the IPL season, but they had a lot more time to prepare because the tours started in July or August.
Warner and Steven Smith both played in the IPL before going to the Ashes in 2013 and 2015. But they also had a lot more time to get ready and played first-class matches in England before the first Test of those series. In 2015, between the IPL and the Ashes, they played a two-Test series in the West Indies. Warner and Smith also played in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2019, and they were in England for the 50-over World Cup before the Ashes.
Watson thinks that the players can’t waste any time during their training days.
“I didn’t have that quick of a turnaround,” Watson said. “It was always hard to do. Getting ready for an Ashes series in the winter or going from a Twenty20 series in Australia to a Test match almost right away is a big task.
“What you need to know is what you really need to work on if you only have a few days.
“For me, the most important thing came down to my defense. I ended up having to just work on facing the moving ball, making sure I was hitting against bowlers with the moving ball or getting throws against the moving ball, and then just making sure my defense was locked in. Also, you’re just getting used to dropping the ball again. What are the risky spots, especially the lines that bowlers would try to hit? The Dukes ball will be the hardest for all of these guys and Cameron Green to get around because it swings so often.
“You really need a couple of tour matches, especially, to get used to the ball always moving and doing something. So, it will be a huge task for these guys to have such a short break and not have a tour match. Just to be able to really nail down your game plan and then do it ball after ball for a longer time.”
Bowling workloads are also a big problem that may be more of a problem for India than for Australia. Hazlewood has already been pulled because his training was not up to par, but Australia’s other four quicks, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Scott Boland, and Michael Neser, have had a long time to build up their red-ball bowling loads, with Neser playing five first-class games for Glamorgan.
Green and India’s bowlers don’t have the same luxury, and they both have to deal with a problem that is similar to what Boult had to deal with last year, but not as ridiculous.
Watson said, “It was always hard for my body to take on more work, even when things were going well.” “It was always hard for me to go from T20 cricket, which is fast-paced but doesn’t make you tired, to having to get my body up and get used to throwing a bit more when I was tired. So I was always careful and tried to plan as much as I could.
“But, of course, it’s a very short time between games for some bowlers in particular. Again, you’ll either drown or swim. They have no other option. They just have to give it their all and hope that their bodies will hold up and that the managers will be able to handle the bowlers who haven’t done much work before this Test.”