Former Australia wicket-keeper Ian Healy doesn’t agree with prolific run-getter Usman Khawaja’s opinion that practice matches are not required ahead of the four-Test Border-Gavaskar series in India beginning February 9.
Australia will not be playing a single practice game in India before the opening Test in Nagpur, and Khawaja, a member of the touring side, recently said it won’t harm the team’s chances on spinning sub-continent wickets.
“Have you ever been pre-tour with us? They can be spinning wickets when we play but we go to the practice matches and they are green Gabba-like wickets out there so what’s the point,” Khawaja was quoted as saying recently by the Australian media.
“I think we have finally learned. When I heard we weren’t going to have a practice game I went up to (head coach) Andrew McDonald and said, ‘good idea’.”
Healy, 58, on Thursday, begs to differ and said that while someone like Khawaja, who is in peak form, might not require fine-tuning on Indian pitches, there would be many in the side who need to get used to sub-continent wickets.
“That’s an in-form natural batsman (Khawaja) talking,” Healy told SEN Radio on Thursday.
“I think the spinners would like a ‘bowl-off’ into it and so the non-natural players who need some repetition and to grind before getting back into it. It’s not for everyone practice matches, but it is for some,” added Healy.
The touring side under Pat Cummins is not scheduled to play any tour games in between Tests, and Healy thinks that could hurt Australia’s chances in the crucial series.
“How do we get players back into form? There’ll be no games in between the four Tests either. Someone who is going to be sitting on the bench for three matches might get dragged in, we’ve got to be careful.”
The veteran of 119 Tests and 168 ODIs added that he was concerned for someone like pacer Lance Morris, who could make his debut for Australia on the tour.
“I am a little bit worried, not so much for an Usman (Khawaja) and that sort of personality that he’s got with great natural flair. But a Lance Morris, I want to keep him revving, I would be looking to find games for a few of those (players).
“We want them to play games, see if there’s a club game if there is such a thing in India. I don’t need him (Morris) getting stale or bored without form behind him,” opined Healy.