‘Optional’: BCCI may provide Dukes balls if India’s Test stars want red ball net sessions during IPL

NEW DELHI: India’s leading Test stars will be busy with their IPL engagements but the BCCI is ready to help them out by providing Dukes balls in case they want to sneak in a few red ball net sessions during the course of the T20 tournament.
This probably will be done keeping in mind that India’s next big assignment just after the IPL is the marquee World Test Championship final against New Zealand in Southampton from June 18-22, followed by the big-ticket five-Test series against England.
However, this is purely an option which all the BCCI’s contracted Test players can avail, keeping the gruelling IPL schedule in mind.
“In case any of the Test players feel that they are able to devote time for some red ball sessions, the BCCI will provide them with a set of Red Dukes and they can train. For any help, national team coaches are always a phone call away,” a senior BCI official told PTI on condition of anonymity.
The logic behind such an option is the lack of time between IPL final and the World Test Championship which is around 20 days.
“You won’t get a full 20 days for training. If IPL ends on May 29 and the team travels on May 30 or 31st, as of now there will be close to a week of hard quarantine in the UK. Effectively you are left with 10 days of nets and no matches. So it’s only fair that if
some of them can pull in a few sessions without hampering the franchises’ schedule, it would be great,” the official said.
New Zealand will go into the WTC final well prepared with two Test matches against England early June but India dive straight into the crucial tie from the T20 format.
It is believed that some of the red ball specialists like Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane, who aren’t exactly sure-shot regular first XI picks for their respective franchises, can utilise the time away from games in preparing for the big battle ahead.
“Similarly, a Mohammed Shami, who is a very vital cog in the scheme of things could time to time, bowl with the red Dukes to get a feel,” he said.
BCCI’s team of trainers and physios will also keep a tab on the premier players’ workload management by touching base with their franchise counterparts like every year.
In fact, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who hasn’t played a lot of red ball cricket of late after the conclusion of England series, had said that he will be preparing for England Tests while playing IPL.
“Of course, red-ball cricket is on my radar. I will prepare keeping the red ball in mind. Although what kind of team will be selected for Test matches is an entirely different scenario,” Bhuvneshwar said at the conclusion of the ODI series.
“My workload management and training during IPL will be keeping red ball in mind because I know there’s a lot of Tests ahead and my priority still is Test cricket. So from my end, I will do everything to get ready for the Test series,” he stated.


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