Days of our Lives!

July 2, 2006

Let’s not blame it on the pitch again

Filed under: Sports — Santhosh @ 6:46 PM

Sabina Park
Scenes of an Indian victory overseas after decades.
The ODI rout is forgotten, the Men In Blue are back in business.
Back to the drawing board for the Windies – poor infrastructure, bad management, zero cooperation within the board, deteriorating pitches, lack of matchwinners…

But the scene that’s playing in everyone’s minds is Brian Charles Lara sarcastically applauding the pitch curator when he was beaten by a vicious Bhajji turner. What it portrayed was Lara was not happy with the pitch and that the pitch was not suitable for test cricket. What he actually tried to ask was what the heck was such a turner doing with the Indians visiting.
When England last came visiting, they were provided with fast, pacy pitches for Harmison, Hoggard and Freddie. And now Bhajji and Kumble get turners. Caribbean hospitality?

Anyways the pitch has dominated the majority of discussions on the match. That the match got over in 3 days, and the fact that all the batsmen struggled would certainly bring the ICC ‘pundits’ in droves.

I watched the match in bits, and as far as i saw, there was nothing too wrong in the pitch. Yes, the ball turned and there was bounce. But for the first time in the series here was a pitch that was not loaded totally in favor of the batsmen. Used to plonking their front foot forward and driving straight down off a short ball (something like in EA’s Cricket 2002), the batsmen struggled when a few questions were asked of them. Just take a look at the number of caught outs in the slips. That in itself is an indicator of the fact that there were a lot of poor shots. It’s not like the ball shot under their bats to rattle their stumps or leapt up on them to spoon a catch to short leg. Batters from both sides are just not used to playing on pitches that have an equal balance between bat and ball.

Dravid looked very comfortable in there. And look at his strike rate in the second innings. The batsman with the best technique on either side was able to conquer the conditions. The usual culprits that we know of for poor footwork – Sehwag, Jaffer, Yuvi, Laxman (start of innings), Gayle, Sarwan, Samuels all went very cheaply. The shot that Dhoni played in the first inning to get out would have scorched its way to the boundary on the usual belter. But this was different. The teams of the 70’s and 80’s would have put up pretty decent scores, and the match would have lasted 5 days.

Having played on belters, used to scoring at atleast 4 an over, ordinary domestic bowlers, the ODI’s entry, have all made batsmen of today absolute kings when on flat tracks. And since we definitely wont get more than 1 such pitch for the entire season, such frailties are forgotten.

So it all comes a circle. The pitches are flat so the batsmen don’t concentrate enough on technique. And since by the time the batters become international, they are anyway not used to playing in somewhat bowler oriented tracks, the pitches are once again made benign for the matches to last the distance, and for the sponsors and the TVs and the venue staff and the boards to get their revenues.

If anything, pitches such as the ones for the first 2 matches of the India-Pak series of 2006 should be probed and banned if necessary. The Sabina Park match made for gripping viewing, watching Dravid square up against good bowling (WI bowlers + pitch). Not the stuff that was on view when India made 450 for no loss.

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1 Comment »

  1. scoreline should have read 3-0 in favour of indians. inexperience of the faster bowler,rain and badlight helped west indies cause

    Comment by Narayanan — July 16, 2006 @ 12:12 AM | Reply


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