‘We will never make excuses about pitch and conditions’

Shastri says the Indian team wants to be the best travelling side in the world

India’s coach Ravi Shastri on Wednesday asserted that the current team does not believe in complaining and will not use tough conditions as an excuse for its performances in what is expected to be a gruelling five-Test series.

There were reports that Indian team management was not happy with the pitch and outfield at the Essex county ground, the venue of its only warm-up game that was curtailed to three days owing to a heat wave.

“My philosophy is very simple — (in) your country, I don’t ask questions. (In) my country, you don’t ask. I said (to groundsmen) leave it, and don’t take anything off,” said Shastri at a media conference on Wednesday.

“On this trip, you will never see this Indian team giving an excuse as regarding conditions or the pitch. Our challenge is to beat them. We take pride in performing wherever we go and we want to be the best travelling side in the world. The last to complain will be this Indian team. I want to clarify this very clearly,” reiterated Shastri.

Dispelling doubts

He further dispelled any doubts about complaints regarding the pitch or the outfield. “There was good grass on that (pitch). The groundsmen asked if we wanted the grass to be taken off. I said ‘absolutely not’ (It is) your prerogative. You give (the wicket), we play, so when you come to my country you can never ask (about pitches).”

He said that searing heat was a factor as far as ‘cricketing reasons’ are concerned, and the team wanted better preparation ahead of the first Test starting in Birmingham on August 1.

“The game was reduced from four days to three because of the logistics and the weather prevailing. We had an opportunity to practice three days in Birmingham, which is the Test match venue. If we had played four days here we would have lost that one day there because of travel. As simple as that. The prerogative whether to play a two-day, three-day or four-day game lies entirely with the travelling team,” explained Shastri.

Shastri said the decision to shorten the game was made during practice on Tuesday.

“It was decided yesterday (during practice). We had a chat (with Essex authorities) and once they explained how they had sold tickets and everything. We were quite happy to play even a two-day game and use that one extra day for practice here. But they said tickets and all that, so we said okay, ‘we will play a three-day game’”

“And travel on Saturday, to be able to practice on Sunday. The reason is to get to the Test match venue because it wouldn’t have served any purpose with an extra day here. An extra day there will give us more familiarity with the venue and the conditions where you are playing the first Test,” said Shastri.

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