Dubai: The conditions in Dubai may be somewhat like the same in India and players need to adapt with it as soon as possible to be able to deliver in the IPL 2020, according to Steve Smith, captain of Rajasthan Royals.
‘‘Part of being a professional cricketer is that you need to adapt and conditions in Dubai may be the same like India. A couple of our players have played in the UAE in 2014 and have the experience. Yes, it’s hugely disappointing that it’s not taking place in India but it’s a decision to get the tournament up and running,’’ said the prolific Australian batman, hailed as one of the finest of this generation alongwith the likes of Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson or Joe Root.
Speaking at a virtual interactive session following a private screening of the documentary ‘The Inside Story: A season with Rajasthan Royals,’ an intimate look at the Royals’ campaign in the IPL last year, Smith said it would be definitely not easy to come out of such a long break from the game. ‘‘The last time I played a competitive game was way back in February. However, the situation will be more or less the same for all teams and I can tell you that the players are jumping to get out of their skins to get some action,’’ he said.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is looking at a window from September 19 to November 8 for the 13th edition of the money-spinning IPL in the UAE, where the international venues in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah are expected to host the matches. A final call will be taken only after the IPL Governing Council meeting on Sunday, which is also awaiting the clearance from the Indian government to shift the tournament overseas due to the spiralling COVID-19 cases in India.
A number of the franchises are looking to arrive in the UAE at least three to four weeks earlier than the start of the tournament for the players to have an acclimatisation camp. However, Smith, alongwith his Australian teammates involved in the IPL can join only by the third week of September after their white ball series ends against England.
Asked if a series against England will help him and his ilk in preparation for the IPL, Smith said it would be a huge plus to play such a quality side after a big lull in the game. ‘‘I will be playing against a few of my Rajasthan teammates in the series (the trio of Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer) and hopefully, my teammates in England shouldn’t score too many runs or take too many wickets against us. They should rather reserve it for the IPL,’’ he said in zest.
Smith, who was hoisted as the captain in place of the Royals veteran Ajinkiya Rahane to stem the rot in the back-end of the 2019 season, managed to bring about a change of luck as the team managed to win three of their last five matches under him (while one was rained off), but they eventually finished seventh in the standings. Interestingly, the rivetting documentary on Royals did not shy away from the sensitive issue - and it came back again during the interaction with the media.
Replying to question as to how difficult was to handle the situation, given Rahane’s standing in the franchise, COO Jake Lush McCrum said: ‘‘Our communication was the key here. Our idea was to unlock Rahane and we all saw how he batted after that...Smith, meanwhile, had the highest win percentage among the teams.’’
Look out for the ‘Inside Story’
‘Inside Story: A Season with Rajasthan Royals’, a three-part documentary series produced by Red Bull Media House, will be available exclusively on Jio TV, Jio Cinemas and Jio TV+. Featuring stars like skipper Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson, Varun Aaron and Riyan Parag, the documentary brings fans closer than ever before to the highs and lows of a season.