The Indian team management should not interfere with pitch preparation, writes Makarand Waingankar
A poor carpenter blames his tools, and a poor cricketer blames the pitch. No other international team is as fixated about gaining the home advantage as the Indian team management is and though the pitches are more or less tailor-made to suit the requirements of the Indian side, the team rarely dominates a home series.
Ideally the Indians with three good medium pacers in the side should be going in for a pitch that will have true bounce and carry on the first two days, but the management is obsessed with the theory that two spinners should take a majority of wickets. The irony is that these two spinners of late are more effective in away series than at home.
During the South Africa series, Ahmedabad offered a greenish track which had a little bit of moisture that made our batsmen’s lives miserable. The reaction to the defeat was to make a rank bad turner at Kanpur.
The pitch condition was reported by the Match Referee to the ICC but no action was taken. The goal was not to lose the home series, but by doctoring the pitch have we been able to really win the series?
The Indian batting has been consistently scoring runs on foreign soil which definitely affords more bounce to the bowlers. Indian medium pacers too have been relishing bowling on such surfaces. In fact, the Aussie batsmen were uncomfortable against Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma in Australia. Why then are we insisting on having pitches which would turn from the second day?
Though the Karnataka State Cricket Association had entrusted the responsibility to a New Zealand company for preparing the pitch in a very scientific way, the Bangalore pitch didn’t have good bounce and carry possibly because of the weird strategy management of the Indian team.
Had the team not interfered with the preparation of the pitch, the curator would have prepared a standard international pitch and we would have been able to watch a better cricket contest. Although, compared to the docile pitch that was prepared at Chennai against the South Africans, the Bangalore pitch made the game absorbing till the end.
A pitch for a Test match has to have good bounce throughout and must offer good turn to the spinners from the third day onwards. Such a pitch allows batsmen to play shots and gives bowlers a chance to get the batsman out.
On a dry pitch not only the ball doesn’t come on to the bat but if the toss is won by the opposition in a home series, even a mediocre spinner can bowl effectively on the second day — as witnessed during the Mumbai Test when Michael Clarke ran through the Indian side and the Test got over in less than three days. The best thing the BCCI has done is providing state-of-the-art ground maintenance machines to all the associations. Demonstrations were given to all the curators last year at Mumbai and that was followed by the seminar for the curators. The intention was to educate state curators but if the team management continues to interfere in the preparation of the pitches during the series, the quality of cricket will deteriorate.