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“Want To Be Problem Solvers”: Australia Coach Plays Down Pitch Controversy



Australia coach Andrew McDonald has played down the conversation about “doctored pitches” in India, and indicated he wants his team to be problem solvers who can adjust to changes in conditions from one venue to another. The Australian media has gone hammer and tongs over the manner in which the pitch for the opening Test in Nagpur has been prepared, saying it had been tailor-made to assist spinners and trouble the touring party’s left-handed batters.

However, McDonald, who took over the head coach’s job from Justin Langer early last year, said ahead of the start of the match on Thursday that he is “excited by the challenge that confronts us”, clearly echoing the sentiments of his captain Pat Cummins.

“Our job is to solve the problems that the wicket presents and that’s the great part about Test cricket, is the conditions change from country to country and from venue to venue within the country,” McDonald told SEN’s Whateley on Thursday.

The coach added that all along the feeling in the squad was that the Indian pitches would be along expected lines, so clearly he was not surprised.

“Clearly it’s dry and it’s what we probably expected, to be honest. Coming to Nagpur, the message was it is the biggest turning wicket in India and (with) high reverse swing. I think it all matches up and we’re excited by the challenge that confronts us. I think we’ve all seen the same pitch circulating around.” With the Australian team packed with left-handed batters, Indian spinners are expected to derive advantage from the dry surface and McDonald said he had the players with the wherewithal to solve the problem.

“Yeah, there’s no doubt that we’ve got a heavy left-hand line-up. It’s dryer up one side and a little bit more moisture up the other. It’s going to create some problems and we’ve got some really good problem solvers in our batting line-up that I think can combat that.” The coach said he doesn’t think India had been unfair to the touring side while preparing pitches, which have been labelled, “unorthodox” or “doctored” by the Australian media.

“I don’t think so. I think that you play your home conditions. We’ve got extra bounce in Australia and sometimes some grass. They call it Test cricket for a reason. All your skills get tested and having different conditions in in different countries is great. It would be a plain old game if the conditions were the same everywhere you went.

“The conversations we have a little but more detailed when you get surfaces like this,” he added.

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