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    February 21, 2006

    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.

    England's schedule 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.
    SeasonVisiting side# of tour gamesIndian side strengthSeries winner/result
    1999/2000South Africa1StrongSouth Africa
    2000/2001Australia3StrongIndia
    2001/2002England3StrongIndia
    2002/2003West Indies2StrongIndia
    2003/2004New Zealand1StrongDrawn
    2004/2005Australia1StrongAustralia
    2004/2005South Africa1StrongIndia
    2004/2005Pakistan1StrongDrawn
    2005/2006Sri Lanka0-India
    2005/2006England2Average??????

    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.

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 7:22 PM |
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    3 sledge(s):

    Can't agree more.. the selectors did lose an opportunity to test more deserving candidates.. Made a post on this before the game. Didn't know who Munish Ansari was when I made the post.. Learnt later that he was the winner of the scorpio speedster contest for clocking 140+k. Mumbai mirror had an article about him not really being a great find - but to his credit, he did manage to bag the wickets of KP and Flintoff..

    By Blogger vishnupavan (21-Feb-2006, 8:24:00 PM)  

    I think the data set is too small to make any logical conclusions. Why only go back until 1999/2000? You'd probably have to use such data for all countries to see if there's any trend. Throwing in how the visiting side fared in the tour games into the equation would also be interesting.

    By Blogger Pratik (22-Feb-2006, 10:21:00 AM)  

    vishnupavan: Yes, CCI is such a ridiculous warm-up side. I'm convinced it was the BCCI repaying Dungarpur's support in ousting Dalmiya.

    pratik: True, but I do have a day job :)

    By Blogger Jagadish (22-Feb-2006, 11:26:00 AM)  


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