It seems hard to fathom as you wake on a crisp Dunedin morning that we’ll soon be facing temperatures in the high 30s in stadiums that can best be described as concrete jungles.
We head off to the Caribbean tomorrow to what many consider an idyllic holiday location, but in cricket terms it’s very much a tour of self-preservation. In the past it’s been about surviving the fearsome quicks but that’s changed over time and now the focus is on surviving a battery of spin.
There won’t be a lot of grass on the wickets and while they have some quality quicks we know the real danger comes with spin. The challenge for us is to find ways to combat that and I believe we’ve been making good progress in that area.
We did a lot of work prior to the Bangladesh tour last year where we faced similar conditions. Our approach is focused on gaining as much experience as possible in those conditions or trying to simulate those conditions here – so players can get accustomed to adjusting their technique.
The guys have had a good period of strength and conditioning led by Chris Donaldson. This week they’ve been fitness tested and the results are very promising. On the cricket side of things, everyone’s been working with coaches and mentors around the country and the bowlers have been focused on getting their workloads up.
There are two main things I’d like us to achieve on tour:
- The batsmen develop game plans that are sustainable in the conditions and they then execute them for long periods of time.
- The bowlers focus on creating opportunities on slow unresponsive pitches - that’s spinners and seamers alike.
We have two warm-up matches in Trelawny in northern Jamaica to kick things off. We’ll have nearly everyone available for the second match with the guys joining us from the IPL as well as Kane from his stint in county cricket. There’ll be a few Test hopefuls in the opposition so we’ll get a thorough examination before heading into the three Tests.
Lastly, there’s no doubt that the revelations of corruption over the past week have hurt the sport of cricket. But it’s very much on the periphery for the players as they complete their preparations, and I have every confidence that they know what to do if there’s any suspicion of an approach.
Essentially if the investigation proves people have done the wrong thing, then I’ll be pleased they’re out of the game.