ICC expresses concerns about home advantage in Tests
In the last few years, the longest version of the game has become more advantageous for the sides who are playing in their home conditions. Teams playing in their familiar territories have often humiliated the touring sides who have found it extremely difficult to acclimatise and adapt. Recently the predicament of the Sri Lankan national team which suffered heavily in England against a rampaging England side brought the debate to the fore once again as International Cricket Council chief executive David Richardson expressed his concerns over the whole issue.
Sri Lanka’s defeat in the second Test at Chester-le-Street brought an end to their challenge for the series as the hosts England took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the 3-match Test series. In the first Test, England had an emphatic innings and 88-run win over the tourists and that left exposed the frailties of the Sri Lankan batting line-up which looked susceptible in typical English conditions. With the triumph, England registered their 15th win out of their last 21 home series and thus mooted the fact that home advantage is surely becoming one of the key factors in the longest format now.
Home advantage for the teams
In the last few years, teams like India, Pakistan, Australia have done considerably well on their home turfs but struggled to maintain that tempo in away tours. England’s triumph in Tests in South Africa was a mere exception as the trend of home advantage has become prevalent in the last few years.
The seaming pitches in England, accentuated by the weather, make it exceedingly tough for the batsmen with vulnerable techniques to survive. Also in South Africa and Australia, the pace and bounce in the wickets become a cause of concern for the sub-continent batsmen. Meanwhile, in the sub-continent conditions, spinners get a lot of purchase and they tend to bamboozle the batsmen who are not quite adept at playing them.
Pitches in the India-South Africa Test series last year came under the scanner as the Proteas batters failed to read the Indian spinners on dust-bowls and were severely humiliated. The Test matches nowadays tend to finish inside 3-4 days and even if someone argues that it happens because of the emergence of the T20 cricket, one cannot overlook the menacing fact that there are way too many flaws in a batsman’s technique now compared to the players of the yesteryear.
Talking about the issue, ICC CEO Dave Richardson said, "It's not good where the home team seems to have such a huge advantage and I know the record over the last two or so years the home team comes out on top much of the time."
Importance of acclimatisation
He also added, “That's partly down to the fact I think that teams don't allow enough time to acclimatise.“
With the rise of the T20 leagues across the globe, the number of players who are gradually moving toward the shortest version is quite high and talking about this, Richardson had a word of advice for all the Test playing nations, "I think more and more teams and squads are becoming more specialised – that should allow teams to prepare for a Test series even while their Twenty20 team is finishing up a series somewhere else.”
Richardson pointed out, "We want to find ways of playing slightly less cricket but more meaningful cricket. That means reducing the workload on players and also allowing time for teams to play that extra warm-up game which will give them more of a chance to acclimatise."
In the last 10 years, England is the only team which has been fairly successful in away sojourns, as they have managed to register series wins in India, Australia and South Africa and the critics credited their rigorous preparations before the mentioned tours as one of the key reasons behind their success.