'Brendon McCullum & Ben Stokes Are Controlling It': Stuart Broad Backs England's Late Arrival For India Tests

'Brendon McCullum & Ben Stokes Are Controlling It': Stuart Broad Backs England's Late Arrival For India Tests

England will be having a training camp in Abu Dhabi before arriving in Hyderabad three days ahead of the 5-Test series opener against India on January 25.

PTIUpdated: Sunday, December 31, 2023, 04:14 PM IST
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Former fast-bowler Stuart Broad said England are right in arriving late in India ahead of Test series opener, saying such arrangement led by captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum is to have more control around the team schedule in a heavy cricketing calendar.

England will be having a training camp in Abu Dhabi before arriving in Hyderabad three days ahead of the series opener against India on January 25.

Broad okay with England's travel schedule

"The decision to fly to India only three days before the first Test next month is not England minimising preparation — Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes, as coach and captain, are controlling it."

"In cricket, when you tour a country, arriving weeks early, the warm-up pitches, quality of the nets, the matches you play, and your travel schedule are seldom arranged to help you. So McCullum and Stokes are taking ownership of this period leading up to the series opener in Hyderabad on January 25 rather than leaving it in someone else’s hands," wrote Broad in his column for Daily Mail on Sunday.

The series in India is billed to be the biggest challenge for Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, especially in terms of their ultra-attacking style of play and continuing with it in spin-friendly sub-continental conditions. England had won the series opener in Chennai in 2021, but lost the series 3-1.

England to train in Abu Dhabi for India Tests

Broad also wrote about how the training camp in Abu Dhabi might help England have a great preparatory environment ahead of Tests against India. "At a 10-day Abu Dhabi training camp, McCullum can choose the net surfaces, control the middle practice, ramp up a day’s training and minimise flying."

"I’ve been to countries where you are due to train in the afternoon only to get there and discover the nets have been watered and covered. That’s no good. In Abu Dhabi, England will feel like the home team."

"Ultimately, we will only know if it’s right or wrong on the result. If England get bowled out for 80 and concede 500, Abu Dhabi will have been a failure, but if Ollie Pope gets 270 and Jack Leach takes a 10-for, it will have been a success. This is neither a lack of match-readiness nor disrespectful to India."

"This is an iconic tour and means a huge amount to the England players. It is not a case of the less preparation the better, it is simply an attempt to create the best pre-series environment possible."

After the match in Hyderabad, India and England will play subsequent Test matches in Visakhapatnam, Rajkot, Ranchi and Dharamshala. An England Lions squad will also be playing matches against India ‘A’ team at Ahmedabad in January.

Broad hails Root

Broad further believes only premier batter Joe Root can match Stokes for mental preparation ahead of matches. "Yes, England’s captain is a beast of a trainer. Seeing the photos of how his legs have developed during his rehab from knee surgery tells you that, but in terms of nets, he only hits when he is ready and that might mean two hours one day and only five minutes the next.

"Out of all the players I played alongside, only former captain Joe Root could match Stokes for mental preparation, and he doesn’t let anyone else judge how he’s feeling. If five minutes feels enough, five minutes he does."

"Having played under McCullum for 18 months and knowing Stokes’s follow-my-lead vibe, you can also bet the players will be playing golf in an afternoon too... crucially, though, only after working their backsides off at training from 9am to 1pm. That’s your mental getaway — I lived and breathed it and felt the benefits. So did an England team that has won 13 and drawn once in 18 Tests."

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