Australia’s wicket-keeper batter Alex Carey believes batters, while playing on subcontinent wickets, cannot just spend time worrying about spin and will need to be wary of the threat posed by reverse-swing, something he feels could be equally damaging.
The build-up to the four Test series has unsurprisingly been dominated by spin talks, but India, of late, has been equally conducive for pace, with the quicker men averaging 26.41 since the start of 2019. Carey himself played an unofficial Test against India ‘A’ five years ago and it was a contest in which the touring Australia ‘A’ side were run through by Mohammed Siraj on the first day, with the speedster taking 8/59.
Carey, who has five Tests in the subcontinent under his belt having played in both Pakistan and Sri Lanka, is aware of the damage the seamers could cause in India.
"Going to Pakistan there was a lot of spin talk and I found the reverse-swinging ball really difficult," Carey told reporters on Friday.
"I played a four-day game (for Australia A against India A) in 2018 and a lot of the talk was about spin and you forget a little bit about how damaging how both teams' fast bowlers are with a reverse swinging ball, with a wicket that might be a little bit up and down.
"Having the preparation and the game to ebb and flow between fast bowling and spin, and (during) dry periods where you won't score, (is important)."
The sweep is Carey’s go-to shot against spin and it was not long ago that he struck a 47-ball 45 in Galle that nearly exclusively consisted of sweeps and reverse-sweeps. But the 31-year-old believes no two batters need to apply the same method to succeed, and is of the opinion that it’s up to the individual to back the game-plan that works for them.
"I like to sweep in most circumstances, most formats, then [it's] playing the conditions," he said.
"We went to Galle for two Tests and they were two different wickets. So be open-minded about what we are going to come up against, what team they put on the park and what scenario I come in at.
"We haven't really spoken about it too much, the way as a group we are going to play, it's the individual basis. For Travis it might be exploring that [attacking] game a bit, Renners [Matthew Renshaw] is a bit taller and can get to the pitch of the ball - he has been here and succeeded - so it's up to the individual to own their game then we back them in to do that.”
Six months ago in Sri Lanka, Australia were in the drivers’ seat to win the series, coasting at 204/2 in the second Test after winning the first by 10 wickets, but failure to capitalize on the start and score big cost them dearly, as the Lankans staged a sensational comeback to level the series.
One of the things the batters will need to do in India, Carey believes, is ensure to score big runs when they’re in, and when the conditions are in their favour.
"It's an exciting Test tour, there will be chaos at times, wickets will fall at times, just try to manage those situations. When we are on top hopefully the batters can really go big.
“I haven't been here and played Test cricket but have seen it on TV and if you are on top try to drive it in, and if you're not try to find a way to get some momentum back."