BCCI gives two warm-up ties to Australia

New Delhi, (Mail Today): The Indian cricket board seems to have bent backwards once again to accommodate a visiting team’s wishes vis-à-vis providing opportunities to get acclimatised to local conditions.

While England got their way with three warm-up matches before the four-Test series began last month, Australia will play two warm-up matches ahead of their Test tour in February-March.

When the last time the Australian team toured India to play a Test series, in 2010, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had given it just a three-day match before the two Tests and three One- day Internationals.

However, to be fair to the parties involved, Cricket Australia (CA) also gave the Indian team two warm- up matches in 2011- 12 ahead of what turned out to be a disastrous four-Test series.

A recce team of CA, which visited Ferozeshah Kotla and the Services Sports Complex in Palam on Thursday, confirmed that the national team will play two games ahead of the Test series beginning on February 22 in New Delhi, as per the itinerary chalked out by the BCCI. “ We wll play two warmup matches, both at the Services ground here in Delhi. The first one will be a two-day match and the next one a three-day game,” CA senior manager (team performance) Bernard Moran told MAIL TODAY at the Ferozeshah Kotla.

Australia would land in the Capital on February 9 and CA has apparently asked the BCCI that its team would like to finish both warm- up encounters by February 16, five days before the first Test, which as per the 2011-12 domestic programme and fixtures chalked out by the BCCI, begins at the Kotla on February 22.

The five-member CA recce team, which visited Chennai on Tuesday and Kanpur on Wednesday, seemed satisfied with the facilities at the Kotla and the security arrangements explained to them by a Delhi Police team headed by Devesh Srivastava, Additional DCP ( central district).

“Indian venues are like home away from home for most of the Australian players because they are familiar with all the venues as they have been playing in the IPL over the years. All the guys [members of the recce team] are comfortable with Delhi,” Moran said.

Frank Dimasi, security manager of the men’s team, was also okay with the security apparatus. “ We are even okay with players going to the other side of the stadium for post- day press conferences,” he said after meeting with Srivastava and other police officers.

Moran said that alcohol has been prohibited for the Australian players when matches are on. “ No alcohol and no late night functions for players. They have been banned by the Board,” he said.

Chetan Chauhan, a vice-president of the Delhi and District Cricket Association who showed the facilities to the recce team members, said that the visitors were satisfied with what Kotla offered. “ The only thing they want is that there should be no mob or crowd when the team lands in Delhi on December 9,” Chauhan told Mail Today. “ And the two warm- up matches will be organised by the Services Sports Control Board ( SSCB), but we will help them if they want anything from the DDCA.” SSCB secretary M Baladitya was gung ho after the recce team’s inspection of the Palam ground.

“They were very happy with the facilities after the renovation of the ground. Am sure the outfield is one of the best in the country and so is the pitch. The dressing rooms facilities have also improved. And we have built permanent stands for video cameras,” Baladitya said.

While Kotla got the thumbs up, the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur, which will host the third Test from March 14, is not on as sound a footing. Construction work on the galleries is currently on and the outfield bore the brunt of about 30,000 people who trampled on the grass during a Parovartan function organised inside the stadium, which is owned by the state government.

“The field is not as good as this one,” said Moran with a wry smile, looking at the lush green Kotla outfield. While CA hasn’t given any deadline, BCCI has told the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association to get the venue ready for the match till January 10.

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