What is the point of warm-up games?
England's convincing win in their tour opener
set me thinking about why such a hopeless side was playing the visitors in the first place. Robin Uthappa
was probably the only one from the CCI side playing the game who had some
sort of a chance to attract the selectors' attention. It then struck me that this was the new BCCI committee's way of thanking Raj Singh Dungarpur
, president of the Cricket Club of India.
has two tour games. At least their next opponents, the Board President's XI
, are likely to be a tad more competitive.
Looking at various tours to India since 2000
, this is what I found. I excluded tours by Zimbabwe. The Indian side refers to the side which played against the visiting team in the tour game.
|Season||Visiting side||# of tour games||Indian side strength||Series winner/result|
|1999/2000||South Africa||1||Strong||South Africa|
Looking at that table, it does lead me to believe that teams seem to do better when they don't have too many warm-up games. The results for South Africa (1999/2000), Australia (2004/2005), New Zealand and Pakistan certainly point in that direction. So far, touring sides have invariably played against some reasonably strong opponents in the warm-up games. Most of the time it was an India 'A' side or a Board President's XI side or the then Ranji Trophy champions. This time around, England have been taken for a ride by the BCCI, with the ECB not raising a finger!
Coming off second best against strong opposition in warm-up games tends to deflate a visiting side, as Australia found out first-hand against Mumbai
almost exactly eight years ago. Winning against weak opposition hides the visiting team's faults and could lead to over-confidence. Of course, it works both ways. A loss against a local side in the warm-up game makes the visiting side that much more focussed and helps them identify the fault lines.
Striking the right balance is tough, but I think the BCCI should make visiting teams play against the strongest possible combinations in the tour games. That is the only way the second [and third] rung of players experience playing against quality players in the touring sides.