Zaheer Khan, the former India paceman, believed playing limited-overs cricket for almost a month ahead of the five-Test series in England would give India more than enough time to get acclimatised to the conditions.
According to a report by ICC, India will play three Twenty20 Internationals and as many one-day internationals in England between 3 and 17 July, and they will have the remainder of the month to prepare for the Test series, the first of which is set to begin in Edgbaston on 1 August.
“There will be more than enough time to get used to the conditions,” said Khan. “It (limited-overs series) certainly will give you enough time to get yourself acclimatised. Most players are playing in more than one format and the key players will get used to wickets and conditions.”
Khan, who represented India in 92 Tests, 200 ODIs, and 17 T20Is, added that inconsistent English weather made it imperative for players to be in the right frame of mind. “One thing with England is the weather is not consistent,” he said. “In overcast conditions, the ball is going to swing. At the end of the day, you need the right frame of mind and the right technique to deal with it as a bowler or batsman.”
Khan excited many in his career, not just with his ability to move the ball both ways, but his intelligence in using his skills. He returned 311 Test wickets to become the second Indian paceman since Kapil Dev to get as many, but his career was marred by injuries. He emphasised the need for modern pacemen to be “smart” about managing workloads.
“That workload has to be managed is a fact, but you also need to be smart about it,” he said. “I have always emphasised that match practice is the best practice. If you are in a good rhythm, then that practice session is not going to help you in managing the workload. But lots of bowlers want to bowl before the match for psychological reasons.
“I never endorse staying away from matches just because workload is high. I managed my workload in the nets rather than by missing a match.”
Khan was also a big proponent of the knuckleball. The delivery is becoming increasingly important for pacemen, especially in T20 cricket, and Khan highlighted why that was the case. “As a bowler, you have to stay on top of the game,” he said. “Knuckleballs don’t give a clue to the batsman. It’s very hard for a batsman to pick it. I personally had lots of success with it, although I started using it only late in my career.
“It’s a great asset to have as a bowler especially in this format (T20) where batsmen look to be aggressive and try to hit big shots. It’s about speed variation. That’s why a lot of bowlers have started using the knuckleball (in the ongoing IPL).”