A few weeks ago this column suggested the need to have domestic cricket played on uncovered pitches. One learns that the BCCI may now have under-16 matches played on uncovered pitches as an experiment.
The AGM ended on September 19 and many sub-committees were formed but the Technical Committee is yet to be formed even after two weeks. The Technical Committee will do well to discuss the methodology of preparing pitches. The pitch prepared at Jaipur for the Irani Cup under the instructions of the BCCI curator should be the case study.
In England, Australia and South Africa the professional bodies which have qualified scientists are entrusted with the responsibility of preparing the pitches but in India the players are at the mercy of curators who are not qualified.
In fact the Pitch and Grounds Committee of the BCCI doesn't have a single qualified member. When these non-qualified members manage their respective zones, the local curators keep complaining of the methodology insisted upon by the BCCI curators.
India being a vast country, the soil and weather conditions differ from place to place. Obviously the methodology adopted for the preparation of the pitch varies to a considerable extent. Unless one is qualified in understanding the nuances of soil management, it's difficult to prepare a quality pitch.
After interaction with many State curators over the years, it is observed that from choosing soil to pitch preparation everything is carried out using a thumb rule. There is no mechanism in place to select good quality soil. What the soil contains must be known to the curators but with hardly any choice to know what it contains, the soil is selected in huge quantity by thumb rule.
A couple of years ago, each association was handed over pitch and ground preparation machines worth lakhs of rupees but many associations had no skilled manpower to use those machines.
Ideally the BCCI should select soil and other material before the off season through a proper process and with the help of international experts. It is not that we don't have soil scientists but until the time they understand the process of the pitch preparation, the experienced foreign scientists can teach them the process.
There is also the need to hire skilled manpower for handling machines. In fact more than handling the machines, they have to be maintained through proper servicing. Not knowing how to do it, a few associations didn't use all the machines.
Now that the season has kicked off not much can be done about the process of preparing the pitches and training manpower. However, for the most prestigious and richest cricket board, a department to handle all such technicalities is a must.
This department should have full-time qualified scientists to formulate and implement the process required for ground, pitch management and training of personnel for handling the equipment. It's a change in approach that is required. A two-day seminar is not the solution to address such a major issue.