Cricket 2023, Australia vs India Test series, Steve Smith, wickets, practice pitches, squad

Cricket 2023, Australia vs India Test series, Steve Smith, wickets, practice pitches, squad

Steve Smith says Australia made the right decision not to schedule a tour match in India given the “irrelevant” pitches the team faced on the last tour.

The Aussie men’s team last traveled to the country in early 2017, leaving with a 2-1 series loss, extending a drought in India that dates back to 2004.

They flew out of Sydney on Tuesday ahead of a four-Test series, starting on February 9 in Nagpur.

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While it is typical for a cricket team to arrive in a foreign country early to have at least one practice match, Cricket Australia opted against it this time.

Instead, the team gathered in North Sydney at the weekend for an abbreviated training camp, where curators were asked to prepare a pitch that could mimic a dry, cracked deck in India.

Steve Smith of Australia walks off the field after being dismissed by Jasprit Bumrah of India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2020. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images) (Getty)

“Usually we have two tour matches left in England. This time we don’t have a tour match in India,” Smith told reporters on Tuesday.

“The last time we went, I’m pretty sure we served a green-top (to practice on) and it was kind of irrelevant.

“Hopefully we get some really good practice facilities where the ball is likely to do what it’s likely to do in the middle, and we can get our practice in.

“We will wait and see when we hit the ground. I think we made the right decision not to play a tour game.

“Like I said, last time they dished us a green shell and we barely faced any spin, so it’s kind of irrelevant.

“We’re better off having our own nets and getting spinners in and bowling as much as they can.”

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India’s dry and spinning wickets are in stark contrast to the usual green, seam-friendly pitches used for Australian Test matches.

It is this fact that is largely credited for the awful record of Australia’s Test team in India. The men have not won a series there in 19 years.

It’s been called ‘the final frontier’, but Smith isn’t too keen on playing up to that label.

“It’s definitely big. I don’t know if it’s the final frontier,” he said.

“India and England – our two opponents over the next six months – are probably our biggest as an Australian Test cricketer.

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“We have some challenges ahead of us, but the guys are ready for it. I’ve never won (in India), I’ve been there twice. To be honest, it was very difficult to play there.

Australia have been singled out to pick at least one additional spin bowler to work with Nathan Lyon.

Ashton Agar, Mitchell Swepson and the uncapped Todd Murphy have been selected in the touring squad.

“I’d say (we’ll pick) two (turners) minimum, maybe three,” Smith said.

“I think it depends on the surface being served.”

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