Cricket time again at the Kotla

ICC curator Andy Atkinson (R) inspects the pitch as (from left) Noor Mohammad, Radhey Shyam Sharma and Venkat Sundaram look on at the Ferozeshah Kotla in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar   | Photo Credit: photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

It is cricket time again at the Kotla! The rolling of the pitch has begun and the stadium is being decked up for the big event. The team of curators is smiling and an air of festivity has engulfed the World Cup venue.

Four gun-toting securitymen keep a close eye on the pitch as the ground staff goes through its process. Andy Atkinson, the International Cricket Council's (ICC) chief pitch consultant and Venkat Sundaram, the BCCI's Grounds & Wickets Committee chairman, assisted by curators Radhey Shyam Sharma and Noor Mohammad, have worked tirelessly to ensure things are in place.

The team of curators had a job on hand when they began restoring Kotla's reputation. The venue suffered a one-year ban when the India-Sri Lanka one-day match in December 2009 was abandoned due to “unfit pitch.”

Atkinson and Sundaram allay all apprehensions about the pitch.

“We have tested the playing surface well. Two Ranji matches and three under-22 matches have yielded 1,000 runs in every encounter,” says Sundaram, who knows the Kotla like the back of his hand, having played a lot of his cricket here.

What Atkinson says

Atkinson's definition of a good pitch is simple. “A four-day or five-day pitch will be different from the one-day pitch.

In a five-day contest, there is more assistance to the bowlers and the pitch deteriorates as the game progresses. “In a one-dayer it can't be very different in the second session from the first.

Our job is to ensure the pitch remains consistent, stays almost the same, where the players can strike the ball with confidence and the bowlers are not negated,” observes Atkinson. Is it a sporting pitch? “What is that?” counters Sundaram. “The pitch is sporting only when you win.

In Australia, England, South Africa, the ball seams a lot and bounces too. A total of 250 becomes a match-winning one. We must have something for the bowlers here too. Why have a run mela?”

As far as Atkinson is concerned, the equation in a Test match is 50-50, but it becomes 70-30 in a one-day contest. Kotla promises to offer just that.

Better facilities

A new drainage system, modern covers and a lush green outfield makes Kotla look a modern cricket venue. Adding to the lustre are new practice pitches and comfortable seating for the spectators. Now for the response from the fans!

“Come and enjoy. You will see some of the finest players in this tournament,” smiles Sundaram.

Adds Atkinson, “Everyone connected with the tournament has worked long hours to get to this stage. It is the right opportunity to watch some real, big cricket! The atmosphere you get here (in India) is unmatched.”

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 12:31:15 PM |

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