Whoever finally wins the match in Kolkata, the pitch controversy was an unnecessary drama. Nothing is uglier than a spat between a captain and an experienced curator.
In this argument of who is wrong and who is to be blamed, one question has to be asked — what was the BCCI Pitches and Grounds committee doing? Isn’t its purpose of existence to coordinate?
Denying English batsmen practice against spinners made it clear that tracks will be made to let spinners exploit. But however obvious it was to the media and the rest of the country, the local curators weren’t formally told anything by the BCCI.
After England won the Mumbai Test match, the Test at Kolkata became very important and the Chairman of the Pitches committee ought to have met the Eden Gardens curator about preparing a turner. Instead Dhoni used the media to convey his thoughts. This didn’t go well with the curator of the Eden Gardens.
Till the time the President of the Cricket Association of Bengal, Jagmohan Dalmiya convened the meeting of curator, nothing seemed clear. Eventually it was decided to offer the pitch that was used for the Ranji Trophy that ended on Nov. 20.
No one goes public asking for turning or green tops. It’s all decided secretly much before the series.
Dhoni excitedly couldn’t keep his ideas to himself and handed over a psychological advantage to the opposition after winning the first Test. He completely overlooked the fact that though England panicked in the first innings of the first Test, it handled the spinners better in the second innings.
At Mumbai though Dhoni won the toss, Indian batsmen failed to capitalise and England grabbed the opportunity to bat big. Dhoni seems to be convinced that India can win only on rank bad turners in India.
After losing the Mumbai Test in less than four days despite playing with three spinners, he should have thought of plan ‘B’ but clearly he was too obsessed with the plan. If he was so decided about it, a meeting of the local curators with the team management should have been held. The team management is within its rights to ask for a pitch that will make its strategies effective but clear planning has to be done for that too.
Emotions, sentiments and reputations won’t win us matches everyday. Eventually it’s the performance that matters. Dhoni is counting on the seniors to contribute and it is here that he is blindly believing.
When Ricky Ponting was not clicking, the selectors had a chat with him. Though Cricket Australia made it look as if Ponting decided on his retirement, the very fact that the meeting took place indicates he had no option.
Till the time the Indian team management and selectors talk to seniors, talk about pitches becomes secondary. Blaming curators is a way to shirk our fault because the characteristics of pitches differ. Dhoni should have known better after playing international cricket for more than a decade.
The point is not to blame but to realise that communication is the key here. The team management needs to be conveyed a message that what it needs should be discussed with the Chairman of the Pitches and Grounds committee.