THE Australian team is playing indoor soccer and computer games as it rains in India, while England puts on the sunscreen and enjoys the sunshine and hospitality at the WACA Ground in preparation for the Ashes series.
The situation has raised eyebrows and the ire of former selector Merv Hughes, who lashed out at a situation that sees the opposition in town and acclimatised.
“I think they are really well placed,” Hughes said on radio yesterday when asked about England. “I mean they could be in India doing seven one-day games preparing for the Ashes like the Australians are – what a great preparation that is.
“I am just dumbfounded with England being in town and preparing for an Ashes that starts in about a month’s time and Australia has got a team playing in India, playing in subcontinent conditions preparing for the Ashes.
“So who’s going to be better prepared come the first Test match? England appears to be doing everything right at the moment.”
Hughes was not positive about Australia’s chances.
“Our best chance of winning the Ashes is in England in two years’ time,” he said.
“I think we’re going to struggle because England have a well-settled side. They’ve got an experienced side.
“They’ve got world-class players and, when we’re still trying to find a formula for Australia to win, I think we’re going to have win all the tosses and play very good cricket.”
The Australian one-day side has had its past two matches abandoned because of rain, but is stuck in India until the last match of the seven-match series on November 2. The first Test starts on November 21.
None of those players, including hopefuls George Bailey, Phil Hughes, Adam Voges and Mitchell Johnson, will be available for the first round of Sheffield Shield, which begins on Wednesday and they will have only a few days after returning home to play the second round or the Australia A game in Hobart.
Selectors have only the two Shield rounds and the A game to judge red-ball form ahead of the Brisbane Test.
Australia captain Michael Clarke was at the Ryobi one-day cup final yesterday and by all reports is fit enough to play in Wednesday’s Shield game for NSW against Tasmania at Blacktown.
England is making the most of its long lead-in to the Ashes, flying out two left-arm tearaways to mimic the bowling of Johnson and Mitchell Starc and at the same time throwing down the challenge to Steve Finn, Boyd Rankin and Chris Tremlett to bid for the third seamer’s role.
Captain Alastair Cook is happy with the preparation and the competition for spots.
“The third seamer spot is up for grabs,” he said after England’s first of two weekend training sessions at the WACA Ground.
The two left-armers, Tymal Mills and Harry Gurney, are said to be among the fastest bowlers in England.
“I think the next couple of weeks are going to be quite interesting. We’ve got four giants who can bowl pretty quickly and two skiddier ones who can bowl just as quick. When I found out Tymal and Harry were joining us I began digging around in my bag for an armguard, but I don’t seem to have one,” Cook said.
Opener Joe Root is also grateful for the chance to acclimatise on his first visit.
“Really been looking forward to this tour,” he said. “Just looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into it and hopefully playing some good cricket.”
Root is looking forward to net sessions against the quicks on the bouncy WACA practice wickets.
“Guys are going to be working hard and I think that’s what you need and I think that’s gonna be healthy for the whole squad,” he said.