An experiment worth trying

  • Makarand Waingankar
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The policy of appeasement is a political tool used for diffusing messy and potentially threatening scenarios to democratic bodies. With bigwigs from politics attending the BCCI AGM, there was a definite whiff of this diplomacy and trend of keeping all affiliated units happy, a lesson that other sports federations must learn.

In doing so the BCCI accommodated around 130 members in various sub-committees. And this does not include the members of the Technical Committee which had met only once in the entire year. Incidentally, the Cricket Development Committee that was formed under the chairmanship of Dilip Vengsarkar with Chetan Chauhan, Arshad Ayub, Prashant Vaidya and Pranab Roy has been dissolved; that committee too met only once.


For a few years the BCCI had the practice of inviting captains and coaches of various State teams for a conclave. They would discuss issues and give pointers that helped the Technical Committee form policies. Since the captains and coaches were involved, their suggestions were practical. The conclaves too have been stopped without any reasoning.

Why can't we have uncovered pitches for domestic tournaments was one issue that everyone discussed in one of the conclaves and it made sense because playing on uncovered pitches has definite advantage. Such pitches afford bowlers a distinct advantage and the batsmen need technique and temperament to perform.

Bishan Singh Bedi has been advocating the use of uncovered pitches in all the domestic tournaments for many years, but somehow there is a tendency to ignore the advice of experienced cricketers. Bedi not only played on uncovered pitches in India but for more than a decade he played county cricket where conditions would change after a few showers.


Not only are the uncovered pitches a bit unpredictable, but during the winter the dew factor makes conditions lively in India. Even on the docile pitches of Ferozeshah Kotla or Pune's Nehru Stadium, the likes of Madan Lal, Anwar Shaikh and other medium pacers would make the ball move appreciably because of the dew on the pitch.

With covered pitches, the surface has little moisture which can be erased by heavy rollers in the morning but the dew remains effective for longer duration on uncovered pitches. Moreover, being exposed to the weather, it surely has quick wear and tear. These factors will make things interesting.

Most of the bowlers would be happy to bowl on uncovered pitches and batsmen would also be aware that things would not be easy. SG Test balls continue to move all day and will tighten the batsmen's technique.

Amol Muzumdar — the highest run-getter in the Ranji Trophy — feels that no technically incorrect batsman will survive for a long time on uncovered pitches but on covered pitches he will find ways to wriggle out of the situation. When all the local tournaments are played on uncovered pitches why should the BCCI matches be played on covered pitches?

In fact junior cricket will tend to gain more if teenagers get habituated to playing on uncovered pitches from an early age. The approach to the game will change. In Mumbai's Kanga League, the pitches are unpredictable because of rains, but batsmen have to adapt. Even when Sunil Gavaskar was busy with his international commitments, he would rarely miss a Kanga League game. After scoring 221 in the final Test in England in 1979, he rushed to play a Kanga League game.

The issue needs to be discussed urgently by experienced internationals who had played on uncovered pitches. It is an experiment worth trying. Perhaps it may change the course of Indian cricket for the better.

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