The debate of how to save Test cricket is increasingly becoming a rhetorical exercise as there is no genuine desire to prepare pitches which will provide results.
Some surfaces by nature are docile but there has been enough research in making sporting pitches that produce good quality cricket.
The second Test between India and Sri Lanka is a perfect example of how to kill Test cricket. There have been many instances when after winning the first Test, the home team has prepared placid tracks to negate any move opposition may have of squaring or winning the series.
In the 1982 home series against England the Indian think-tank prepared dead pitches after India won the first Test at Mumbai. Now that the ranking system is in place, no country is willing to make sporting pitches once it wins its first Test.
Only during the Ashes do we find good surfaces because any pitch-tampering will not be tolerated by the paying public.
The very ingredient of a good pitch is consistent bounce. Sadly most curators do alter the pitch at the behest of the captains. Ironically, toss in cricket is most vital and sometimes the best-laid plans of home team go awry.
If at all the ICC is serious about saving the Test cricket, then it has to convene a meeting of captains and discuss the future of Test cricket focusing on best practice. Unless the board officials and captains talk with the cricket committee of the ICC, there is very little hope for Test cricket.
The ICC can consider corrective measures like sending its curators to oversee the preparation of pitches one month before a Test match is played. A monitoring system will check any manipulation by that the home association curator.
Once the ICC curators assume the responsibility of overseeing the pitch preparation, the skills will certainly improve. The art of batsmanship is at its best on good pitch at least for first three days. The pitch will then help the spin bowlers because of wear and tear.
There is also the interesting debate about Kookaburra balls which most Indian bowlers struggle with.
That Harbhajan Singh finds it difficult to bowl with Kookaburra balls because of flat seam is evident, but it adds to his woes further when the pitches are flat.
The famous quartet — Bedi, Prasanna, Chandrasekhar and Venkatraghvan — bowled in all conditions with different types of balls without resorting to ‘doosra'. Even on flat pitches they made the batsmen dance to their tunes because their basics were sound. In fact had SG balls, which have pronounced seam, been available to them, things could have taken a different turn.
‘Doosra' seems to be evil that the ICC needs to axe. That the national junior selection committee of India couldn't find a single off-spinner to be included in the list of 30 probables before the under-19 World Cup is alarming enough for the BCCI to ban ‘doosra'.
Cricket Australia has banned ‘doosra' at all the levels following the same principle.