England players ‘frustrated’ with India Test tour schedule

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DHAKA: England leave Bangladesh for India on Tuesday with mounting frustration over a schedule that forces them to play five Tests in just over six weeks without a break.

The scheduling of consecutive tours to the subcontinent was agreed four years ago and has handed England their biggest physical and mental challenge since they played back-to-back Ashes series in 2013-14.

England will spend four days in Mumbai, with the next practice session scheduled on Saturday, before flying to Rajkot the following day to begin preparations for the first Test, which starts a week from Tuesday.

They will then play five Tests against India ending on Dec 20 without a single warm-up match in between, giving them no opportunity for match practice for squad members not in the first XI.

Both the England management and the Professional Cricketers’ -Association are unhappy with the scheduling of the tour but realise there is nothing that can be done now.

“It won’t happen again under our watch,” Colin Graves, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, told The Daily Telegraph “It was not our decision. We have -inherited the future tours programme that was put together four years ago. It has a massive impact on players, coaches and families.

“There cannot have been much thought put into it. You have to balance the schedule out so it is not overcrowded, ensure the travelling is reasonable and look at the workload for both players and coaches. They have their own lives and families and that is what we have to take into account in future.”

The scheduling of this series has been complicated by the players’ insistence that they are home for Christmas, and there is also a mini-break of eight days between the third and fourth Tests for the families to join the squad in Mumbai.

The touring programme was agreed when David Collier and Giles Clarke were running the ECB. They signed off five-Test series in England against India in 2014 and 2018 to maximise television revenue from the Asian broadcast market.

Tours are reciprocal, so England have to play five Tests in India, which would be more manageable if the Bangladesh tour had not been squeezed into the pre-Christmas schedule as well.

England do not want to use the schedule as an excuse but coach Trevor Bayliss has warned there will be no easy solutions to the -batting and spin bowling problems that emerged in the drawn series with Bangladesh.

“The only thing you can do is experience it more often,” he said. “There is no quick fix. But as we saw, there were batters in the two Tests who were able for a period of time to score runs. If you can do it once you’ve got it in you to do it again. It’s just about doing it more consistently and learning from those innings.”

Bayliss has hinted that Ben Duckett could be moved down to the middle order in place of Gary -Ballance, who will be dropped after a poor Bangladesh series.

Duckett made a half-century in his fourth innings on Monday, which would seemingly make England reluctant to shift him and break up a partnership with Alastair Cook after only two Tests. But Bayliss did not rule out moving Duckett in the order to open with Haseeb Hameed.

“I’m sure that will be one of the things we discuss,” he said. “It was one of the things we discussed before the series started – the different options we had available to us going forward so we weren’t surprised by anything. So, yes, that is an option and we will discuss that over the next few days.”

[Source:-The New Indian Express]