WTC final – R Ashwin suggests neutral venues for matches that count towards WTC points
India spinner also thinks New Zealand will come into WTC final ‘with an advantage’, having played England in England in the lead-in
“If I may say this, it has to be the most exciting part of playing Test cricket. In all these years, it never happened – we’ve never played a team in a neutral venue,” Ashwin said on bcci.tv. “But I think going forward, maybe the WTC could add context this way, [by having] two teams playing away from their home and sort of bringing the whole ebbs and flows of the game.”
The WTC’s first edition ran a two-year cycle starting in 2019. As per the original structure devised by the ICC, each team was to play six bilateral series, three at home and three away. To make each match count, points were handed out for every match, with the top two teams on the points table contesting a one-off final. The final of the first edition between India and New Zealand will happen in Southampton, a neutral venue, and Ashwin said it could add more to the quality of the tournament if the associated bilateral series took a similar route.
India will be heading into this WTC final with less game time in the lead-up than New Zealand, who are currently playing the second Test of a two-match series against England in England. While the first game was truncated due to the weather and multiple senior players have been rested for the second, the workout in English conditions should offer New Zealand an advantage.
“I expect a very well-planned and well-knit New Zealand team to come at us,” Ashwin said. “Obviously having played two Tests, they will definitely come in with an advantage. So we have to adapt to that.”
“Experience always works, doesn’t matter what the result is, especially in Tests, when you know about the conditions and the type of situations that will come,” Shami said. “The wickets, the wind, [all of it]. So it helps when you come back to such conditions.”
“When you bowl in India, after the new ball you get reverse-swing,” Sharma said. “When you play here, your length becomes fuller because the ball swings. Adjusting to that length is not easy. It takes a lot of effort. Because the weather is cooler here and it takes time to acclimatise.
“Somebody needs to take the responsibility to look after the ball, to maintain the shine and everything. And after that everything happens. If the ball is well maintained, it’ll be easy for the fast bowlers to do the job for the team.”
Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo