On Monday (March 13), Indian cricket team captain Rohit Sharma announced that players who are not part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 playoffs could leave for the UK earlier than others to begin preparation for the World Test Championship Final. India will face Australia in the summit clash at The Oval on June 7, and with the IPL season running until May 28, there is a scheduling crunch.
“I don’t think it will be a huge problem but yeah, look I believe in preparation and preparations will be key for us come the finals. Around 21st May, there will be six teams who will possibly be out of IPL playoffs contention and so whichever players are available, we will try and find time to get them to the UK early as possible and get some time and we will monitor as much as possible,” Rohit said.
“Look, I think it’s quite critical for us, we’re going to keep in constant touch with all players who are going to play that final and monitor their workload and see what’s happening with them,” Rohit said. “In fact we are sending some Dukes Balls to all fast bowlers and see if they get some time to bowl with that, but again it all depends on individuals, guys who will be part of finals are not the guys who have not played in UK and may be one or two guys here and there and rest all of us have played in that part of the world.”
The IPL league stage ends on May 21, which is 16 days before the final, and players from eliminated franchises could be sent to the UK right after that to help them become familiar with the playing conditions. However, Cheteshwar Pujara is the only player who will not be part of the IPL, while the rest of India’s potential squad will be involved in the IPL starting from March 31. Given India’s recent injury situation, player workloads will be closely monitored, especially with the T20 tournament returning to a home-away format requiring extensive travel.
According to Rohit, managing player workloads will be as critical as preparing for in-game situations like practicing with the Dukes ball that will be used in England. He emphasized that neutral conditions in England will make for a different game between India and Australia, but both teams are familiar with the conditions. Meanwhile, Steve Smith, the Australian cricket team captain in Ahmedabad, shared more details about the conditions they can expect at The Oval in early June.
“It’s going to be great coming up against India in the final. The Oval, the wicket there can take spin at times particularly as the game wears on,” Smith said. “So it could be interesting in terms of what sort of wicket we get. But it’s a great place to play cricket. There’s usually reasonable pace and bounce for an English wicket. It’s probably as close as you get to Australia potentially in terms of pace and bounce. Yeah it’s going to be a great Test match and the guys are looking forward to it.”