Sydney: Australia’s batsmen should learn how to play spin bowling properly or not bother going to India for this month’s Test series, former England star Kevin Pietersen warned Friday.
Australia face a daunting challenge in the four-Test series, starting in Pune on February 23, and have not won a series in India since 2004. Pietersen — whose batting heroics were pivotal to England’s come-from-behind triumph on the sub-continent in 2012 — has decried the need for batsmen to prepare for Indian conditions by training on spin-friendly pitches.
He said by committing to a series of practice drills to develop clear game plans and decisive footwork, batsmen can hone their techniques to handle spin even on the vastly different pitches that Australia provides.
“You’ve got to learn to play spin quick,” Pietersen told Cricket Australia’s website cricket.com.au in an interview. “Learn to play spin very quick. If you can’t play spin, don’t even go.
“When you get there (India) you’ve got to practice it, and you can actually practice it here.
“I can do spinning drills in Australia, I did them on a South African wicket to make sure that my feet were going and picking length.
“You can, you don’t need to be on a spinning wicket to play spin properly or practice spin, you can be on any type of wicket. “It’s about picking length, and picking lines and getting your feet going.”
Australia’s lack of success in winning a Test match in India in nearly 13 years has been largely underscored by the failure of batting line-ups to deal with the spinning conditions. This is not just in India but throughout Asia where Australia have posted just three victories from 20 Tests since 2004. Captain Steve Smith averages 41.57 from seven Tests and Shaun Marsh (78.6 from three). The pair are the best-performing batsmen in Asian conditions in Australia’s selected squad for this month’s India tour.
Opener David Warner averages 33.17 with a solitary century from nine Tests, number three Usman Khawaja averages 19.17 from four matches with a highest score of 26, and a poor tour of Sri Lanka last year that cost him his place in the team. Opener Matthew Renshaw and number five Peter Handscomb are yet to play Test cricket outside Australia.
Allrounders Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell and Ashton Agar have been unable to nail down a Test berth in the past. Pietersen scored 338 runs at 48.29 in England’s landmark four-match series five years ago, including 186 in the pivotal second Test after England lost the first.