Does home advantage keep all cricket teams tigers at home and lambs abroad?
It is unfortunate that most cricket teams seem to falling into the pattern of performing well on home pitches and faltering abroad. Even a formidable team like India struggles on pitches overseas. The conditions vary enormously, which causes such situations.
Cricketers don’t get enough time to familiarise themselves with the differing conditions. Thus, they aren’t prepared and can’t perform up to their potential.
This happens for multiple reasons. Firstly, due to the prevalence of the T20 format and ODIs, cricketers spend less time on pitches. The conditions that are prevalent for T20s and one day matches don’t change radically enough from place to place. There is no demand on the batsmen to develop a different skill set.
The format which is most impacted by a lack of preparation for different conditions is Test cricket. A player needs to acclimatise himself to the new kind of pitches before spending five days on it.
Secondly, of late, the cricket calendar is overpopulated. There is barely any time between one series and the next. This, yet again, leaves the cricketers without enough preparation time. To expect them to excel on every pitch without proper training is unacceptable.
Here are other sharp perspectives on the question:
There is no set pattern to how this can be overcome. There should be a demand to be given at least a couple of weeks to prepare for a new kind of pitch. Teams should arrive in advance and familiarise themselves with different weather and topography.
Moreover, an increasing the number of ‘A’ team tours can also greatly benefit the game. It will increase the exposure of the newer, incoming players to be able to cope—mentally and physically—with different pitches.
Perhaps, there can also be a system where different players play different formats. They would receive specific training on how to deal with their particular niche. This can possibly include honing a skill set that can allow them to be successful in all conditions. It is impossible for most players to make a seamless transition from one format to another. Yes, you will have your Kohlis and your Warners, but not everyone can adapt overnight.
Whether these models can be implemented is a call that cricket boards and the ICC have to take.
Aakash Chopra is a former opening batsman for the Indian cricket team, who now commentates and writes on the game.