I noticed that when a national cricket team goes on a tour of another nation, the visiting team plays a few tour matches with some of the local clubs or junior teams, outside of the slate of T20’s, ODI’S and test matches against the home team. Presumably, these are exhibition matches to warm up and test out different players, lineups, etc. However, I noticed the home team doesn’t seem to do the same. Why not?
The purpose of the tour matches is to get the visitors used to the local conditions, the home team obviously is already used to them. In the olden days these games also helped the tour organizers make money as gate receipts were the main source of income in the era of minimal broadcast and much less sponsorship revenue.
The home team sometimes did play a couple of practice games to let squad gel. But, at that time for players like international soccer players today, playing for the country was an honor while your main source of income was your first class side. So they were not too egar to stay away for long. This actually was an issue for decades.
Nowadays because of a packed schedule, tours are shorter so it’s mostly for practice purposes.
The main point of tour matches used to be to get the visitors used to the local conditions and regain match fitness after weeks of travel.
Home nation players can just play in their domestic competition if the selectors feel they need some games before the tests start.
One area of massive variability in cricket is the state of the pitches and the weather. It effects how balls are bowled and how they bounce, whether they spin or swerve more/less etc.
No two pitches on a single ground are exactly the same never mind from ground to ground but by playing a few different matches the visiting team can get a feel for the range of conditions that may be experienced in that country.
The home team are usually already immersed in those conditions and need less acclimatisation.
As stated above, home field advantage in cricket is huge. Because the ball bounces on the way to the batter, the batsmen have to get used to the speed and height the ball will bounce. Also cricket pitches provide different amounts of spin and deviation off the straight line as the ball bounces. As well, the pitch actually deteriorates over the course of the game, so that will change things around as well. The batters have to get their timing right. And you can’t think about timing - it has to be natural within the batsman’s swing. Hence - practise in local conditions.
As an extremely broad set of generalizations: Here are differing pitches around the world:
Australia - generally even bounce - reasonably quick - not much sideways movement (until Day 4 or 5) - over time will get lower and flatter.
UK - lower bounce than Australia, can have significant sideways movement. Will not deteriorate as much over time.
India, Pak, SL - much lower, slower bounce. More favorable to spin bowlers - terrible for fast bowlers.
South Africa - medium-level bounce, can have excessive sideways movement for faster bowlers - not favorable to spinners.
New Zealand - low, slow bounce, can have significant sideways movement for faster bowlers.
West Indies - flat, even pitches - even bounce. Not much help for any bowlers.
Of course these countries are all huge, and there is significant variations throughout all of them. Melbourne has far different pitches to Perth and Brisbane. Pitch preparation is a combination of soil science, horticultural wizardry, black art, magic and ‘cow’s muck’. Pitch curators and their particular local tweaks (always favoring the locals, of course) become legends in the game.
The bowlers also have to learn the different conditions - how it suits their particular bag of tricks. The fielders also have to adjust to the different speeds with which the ball comes off the bat. And if you play in SA at altitude, they have to adapt to different flight of the ball due to lower air resistance (probably teams playing the Rockies in MLB have the same issues). THEN there’s the differing weather systems (but you get the point by now).
Of course, 99% of this is bullsh!t and overthinking, but that’s why it’s fun.
A Pakistan tour in late November early December would often see tourists having to play in the tropic of Karachi one day and the near-freezing temperatures of Rawalpindi the next game… and the hosts made 6 changes.
Question pretty well answered but …
The fly in/fly out nature of limited over fixtures are a bit different but on a Test tour the tourists will rarely play any game not at a first class level. They don’t play club or juniors. In an Ashes tour in the week before each Test the visitors usually play the state side at the Test venue. For both teams it is an opportunity for individuals to press for Test selection.
With the teams coming in to play a couple of ODIs in a couple of weeks won’t play any games, relying on net sessions or centre wicket to prepare.