India ready to host England Tests in February

By: AFP      Published: 02:53 PM, 23 Aug, 2020
India ready to host England Tests in February

India are committed to hosting England in February next year ahead of the 2021 Indian Premier League season, the country's cricket chief Sourav Ganguly said.

England's original white-ball tour to India in September-October was a casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the International cricket Council's Future Tours Programme (FTP), India are scheduled to tour Australia in December and host England for their last five world Test championship matches in early 2021.

Ganguly, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, said in an email to state associations: "The BCCI and the Indian cricket team will continue to fulfil its FTP commitments.

"The senior Indian men's team will travel to Australia for its series starting in December this year, and will come back to the country for a series against England starting February next year," Ganguly said in the letter seen by AFP.

"This will be followed by IPL 2021 in April (the normal month for it to start)."

After many delays, the 13th edition of the IPL, the world's richest Twenty20 tournament, will now start on September 19 in the United Arab Emirates with the final on November 10.

Ganguly also confirmed the BCCI's readiness to host the 2021 T20 World Cup, which was originally scheduled for Australia this year, and the 50-over showpiece event in 2023.

Australia will host the T20 World Cup in 2022.

'Super-fit' Australia ready to hit ground running in England

Justin Langer said his Australia squad are super-fit and ready to hit the ground running ahead of departing Sunday for a white-ball tour of England, their first cricket since March.

The 21-man squad gathered in Perth before taking a direct flight after which they will face several days of isolation in Derby due to coronavirus restrictions.

Training will be permitted during their lockdown and they will play four inter-squad warm-up games to get match-ready after nearly six months of inaction since the pandemic brought sport to a halt.

They will head to a bio-secure hub in Southampton for the first of three Twenty20s on September 4 against an England side who have been back in action since early July.

Three one-day internationals against the 50-over world champions follow in Manchester.

Australia are taking a larger-than-normal squad, partly because they will not be able to call up anyone into the touring party under the bio-security protocols, but also to ensure they have enough players to field two teams in warm-up games.

"The reason we're taking 21 is so we can play some good practice games over there," said Langer. 

"The guys have done plenty of technical work, they're all super-fit so when we arrive in England, we get straight into match practice.

"That's what we've asked the boys to be ready for, that they can start playing games and, hopefully, because we've got 21 very good players coming with us, we can have some really high intensity practice games."

Skipper Aaron Finch, who will open alongside David Warner, with Steve Smith batting at three followed by Marnus Labuschagne, said close attention will be paid to mental health inside the bio-secure bubble, with a sports psychologist travelling with the team.

"That's going to be something that's going to be a real issue, it's going to be something to monitor heavily," he said, with players not allowed out even to go for a meal.

- David and Goliath -

Finch skippers a squad that includes three uncapped players in Daniel Sams, Riley Meredith and Josh Philippe, with an eye on the T20 World Cup next year in India then on home soil in 2022, ahead of the 50-over showpiece a year later.

Langer said it would be an invaluable experience, even if none of them get a game against England.

"We'll still be picking our best eleven, that's how it's always worked well in the Australian team," he said.

"And for some of the younger guys, if they force their way in through performance in the practice games, that would be great. 

"Otherwise it will just be nice to have them around and give them a feel of what it's like to be inducted into the Australian cricket team."

Australia were crushed 5-0 in a 50-over series on their white-ball tour in 2018, when Langer endured a torrid first trip in charge after taking over from Darren Lehmann in the wake of the Smith and Warner ball-tampering scandal.

Langer admitted it was not an easy time. "I didn't know any of the players, the players didn't know me. We'd come through a great crisis which had rattled everyone," Langer said of the tour.

"We took on the best one-day team in the world at the time so it was a bit like David and Goliath and it was hard, it was really hard.

"But we've got two world-class players back in Steven (Smith) and David Warner, we've got our fast bowlers back. We've come a long way, haven't we?"

Australia squad: Aaron Finch (capt), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (vice-capt), Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Daniel Sams, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa

Smith admits he'll miss jeering English fans

Steve Smith Sunday said he'll miss being jeered and heckled by English crowds during their upcoming limited-overs tour, admitting the booing motivates him to do better.

The master Australian batsman bore the brunt of the hostile English fans on their trip there last year after returning from a ban for ball-tampering.

But he thrived on the taunts and potshots, scoring an incredible 774 runs in four Tests, at an average 110.57, including twin centuries on his Test return at Edgbaston.

"I do like batting there, unfortunately there's going to be no crowd there to egg me on and give me a bit more motivation," he said at Sydney airport en route to Perth, from where the team will fly to England.

"Still, there's going to be plenty of eyes on the TV and it is going to be great to be back out there playing."

Australia's 21-man squad will initially quarantine in Derby due to the coronavirus pandemic before the first of three Twenty20s in Southampton on September 4 in empty stadiums.

They also play three ODIs at Manchester, with both venues having hotels attached so they can remain in bio-secure bubbles.

"I'm looking forward to getting back into it, obviously it's going to be a bit different than what we're used to being in a bubble and playing with no crowds," Smith said.

"That presents a challenge in itself, but one we're looking forward to.

"We're lucky to be able to go and play, we'll just do what we need to and play it day by day, stick together as a bunch and help each other out," added the former captain.