Wanted team to reach South Africa a week before: Kirsten

Margao: The players might not have told the Cricket Board about skipping the forthcoming ODI series against New Zealand to prepare for the South African tour but coach Gary Kirsten had wanted the team to reach his home country a week in advance.

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said on Saturday that no communication was sent from top players to the Cricket Board desiring to skip the ODI series against New Zealand but it turned out that it was Kirsten who mooted the idea of some senior players going to South Africa in advance.

Kirsten, in a letter to BCCI secretary N Srinivasan a few months ago, had expressed his desire to prepare for the South Africa tour that immediately follows the home ODI and Test rubber against New Zealand by allowing the team to reach the rainbow nation a week in advance.

According to Kirsten, the seven-eight players who play all forms of the game for the country needed rest and he, therefore, wanted the Test series against the Kiwis to be reduced from three to two which, however, has not happened as the rubber now involves three matches as originally planned.

“I wanted to check with you if there had been any further developments on the proposed schedule sent to you by the team management for the Australian and New Zealand series. We also discussed the issues around the schedule before the IPL in Chennai, especially the importance of getting to South Africa early,” Kirsten said in his earlier communication to BCCI.

“I understand the commitments the BCCI has to honour with the FTP and television and I know it is a difficult process for you. I do, however, request your consideration of the proposed schedule for pure ‘cricketing reasons’ on the basis that it will give us the best chance of success, especially in this very demanding five months of cricket ahead. The extra week that could be created so we can get to South Africa earlier, I believe will be crucial to our chances of success.

“That said I’m also of the opinion that we should play two tests against NZ and not three. My reason for this is that we are expecting too much from the seven or eight players that play all forms of the game. They play more cricket than any other cricketer in the world (especially if you include IPL as well) and we are regularly picking up ‘overuse’ injuries,” Kirsten explained.

BCCI sources have recently indicated that the Board will send the key Test players early to South Africa to prepare well for the tough series in a country where they had not done so well on previous visits.

“We are planning to send the key Test players to South Africa early to prepare for the series. The conditions in South Africa are quite different and we want to give our players enough time to come to terms with the conditions,” a BCCI source said a few days ago.

On Saturday, Dhoni gave a new spin to the issue of top players wanting to skip the ODI series against the Kiwis in order to prepare for the tougher outing in South Africa, saying no communication has been sent from the players’ side to the Cricket Board.

“Not done (written to the Board) anything like that as of now. No confirmation has been sent from the players’ side to the BCCI yet and nothing has been received from the BCCI either. This is what I have to say,” said Dhoni at the mandatory press conference ahead of Sunday’s third and the final ODI against Australia which is threatened by rains.

He was replying to a query on reports quoting BCCI sources that some top players, including Dhoni, will not play the five-match ODI series against New Zealand after the three-Test rubber against the same opponents and, instead, jet off to South Africa to get more acclimatisation time for the Test rubber against the Proteas.

India, the current world’s number one Test side, have not won a Test rubber in South Africa.

New Zealand are to play three Tests and five one-dayers in India from November 4 to December 10. India are later scheduled to play three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 International in South Africa beginning December 16.

PTI

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