Cricket Australia Items/Blogs/george-bailey/2013/2/21/chennai-hot-hotter-hottest

George Bailey

Bailey: Chennai hot, hotter and hottest

21 February 2013 15

Chennai, so the locals say, has three seasons. Hot, hotter and hottest.

The Australians will not only have to contend with the temperature on and off the field, but also the intensity and scrutiny from the Indian media will have them hot under the collar leading up to the first Test.

The recent Test series against India have been notable not only for the amazing cricket played, but also some on and off the field controversies.

The Indians certainly enjoy taking it up to the Australians and they play the game with an intensity and pride that we certainly relate to.

After his century in the Tour game, Manoj Tiwary tried to rile the Australians by saying they wouldn't be able to handle the Indian spinners and characteristic spinning conditions of Chennai.

This is on the back of our old foe, Harbajan Singh who has for years enjoyed taunting the Aussies.

The taunting may have some merit - on the last occasion Australia stepped out onto MA Chidambaram Stadium spinners collected 18 Australian wickets and nine on the first day.

Reports suggest Indian skipper Ms Dhoni has requested a big spinning wicket and I suspect the wicket will be devoid of grass come the start of play.

At times the wicket can have some good pace and bounce, but given Chennai's favourite adopted son is looking for a spinning wicket this won’t be one of those times!

Dhoni has a great connection with the ground having skippered the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL for the past four seasons.

I have had the great pleasure of being part of that group for two seasons and certainly feel at home in what can only be described as a unique ground.

The humidity hits you as soon as you leave the comfort of the air conditioned change rooms and the Aussie batsmen will be wise to leave their bats outside as they are waiting to bat.

A tip the Indians taught us so as to prevent your bat becoming slippery wet from the sudden change in temperature.

Chennai also has a very distinctive 'aroma' which can drift across the ground intermittently throughout the day which takes you very quickly back to a childhood trip to the tip with Dad.

One of the great challenges at the Super Kings was facing the plethora of spinners that would come to training to try and knock you over.

Particularly in the nets out the back of the ground, you were often faced with extremely challenging conditions, including uneven bounce and sharp turn, which leave even the most fleet-footed of batsmen looking foolish.

Those that succeeded invariably had a clear plan and were extremely decisive.

The Australians that succeed against the Indian spinners (they are tipped to play four) will engage a mixture of attack and defence to ensure the Indian bowlers do not get to dictate their own terms all the time.

The build-up to a Test match and series can sometimes seem bland, but there is something quite alluring about the challenge and history of Australian Test tours to India.

Our most famous game against the Indians came at this ground some 25 years ago in a tied test.

Dean Jones double century in the crippling heat and Greg Matthews 10-wicket haul (whilst bowling with a jumper on) entrenched in cricketing folklore.

It may well be an innings or bowling performance like that from an Australian (minus the jumper I would suggest) that sees our first victory at the ground since 1969.

Interestingly that game saw Ashley Mallett take 10 wickets. His work with Nathan Lyon prior to leaving on this tour may come full circle if the off-spinner can bowl the Aussies to victory.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
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