Recently the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided that its curators would be checked for proficiency. It wanted to make sure that the people who play such a big role in international matches are well equipped. Surprisingly more than half of the curators of the associations failed to clear the examination. And what measures does BCCI take? Let them prepare pitches just the same. What was the point of the examination if the result didn’t matter?

The result reflects in the scores of the Ranji Trophy. In the second round match between Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh played last week at Pune’s Sahara stadium, 1433 runs were scored in four days and only 13 wickets fell at an average of 110 runs per wicket!

In the first round 15 centuries and two double centuries were scored. However in the second round 29 centuries, three double centuries and two triple centuries were scored.

In the second round 12,232 runs were scored and 252 wickets fell at an average of 48.53 runs per wicket. In two important groups in round two, the average per wicket in group ‘A’ is 55.63 and 61.32 per wicket in group ‘B’.

Must we celebrate that the Indian batting standard had upgraded overnight? Don’t easy pitches make runs look meaningless numbers? These figures tell us the story of Indian cricket.

Some curators who failed in the examination defended themselves by saying that bowlers didn’t know how to take wickets! They had the audacity to say it despite the fact that most of the international bowlers played in round two.

Runs have kept piling up despite BCCI having a dozen experienced curators in the committee who attend to most of the venues. The medium pacers were jubilant when it was announced that the staging associations have been specifically instructed to leave four mm grass on the pitch. After round two, they realised the hollowness of the promise.

Identifying problems

Three problems can be indentified. One is that BCCI curators reach the venue two days prior to the match and there is nothing that they can do other than listen patiently to the pitch preparation process adopted by the local curator.

The second problem is that members in the committee are appointed in the last week of September after the AGM and again nothing can be done to change the nature of the pitch. It’s only in April and May when pitches are re-laid can some measures be taken to change the nature of the pitches.

And the third problem is that a majority of curators work on a thumb rule and don’t have a necessary degree in agriculture science to grasp and implement the process. The curators who are agriculture science graduates know the soil and grass management and they are the ones who make better pitches.

But even amidst useless records there is one unbeaten double century that needs to be applauded. The responsible knock of Karnataka’s Ganesh Satish played under tremendous pressure against Tamil Nadu was one of its kind. His batsmanship is based on simple principles of using the depth of the crease. Having watched him since he was 14, I have never seen him defying those principles even in the shorter formats. He is a player worth investing in for the longer format of the game.

The chuckers are back. They get reported, their respective associations get them cleared and they are reported again. It’s time Srinivas Venkatraghavan, who is the Director of Umpires, puts an end to such meaningless issues. Such bowlers should be banned from bowling.

The domestic scene is vibrant with batsmen like Ganesh Satish, Kedar Jadhav, Jiwanjot Singh and Manpreet Juneja. They certainly possess talent but they need to be tested in tough conditions.

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