From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.33 :: NO.46 :: Nov. 18, 2010

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ON THE BALL / W.V. RAMAN COLUMN

The same old story

At a time when the Indian team is on top, it becomes imperative that the administrators at the State level ensure that the commitment levels are far superior than what they actually are currently.

K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

Former Indian cricketers Roger Binny, Anil Kumble, Brijesh Patel and Javagal Srinath at a press conference at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. A lot of expectation has been generated in Karnataka with former cricketers deciding to jump into the administration.

The domestic season has started in Indian cricket with the same old tone that Ranji trophy will be the platform from which the aspiring cricketers can launch themselves into the bigger league by performing consistently.

However, it seems to be a case of just the numbers in the year column changing, but apart from that everything else is likely to be the same.

Firstly, the pitches have more or less retained their original characteristics and if the first round of league matches is anything to go by, the surfaces at the major centres have flattered to deceive. The huge scores piled up by batsmen at these venues is an indication that the bowlers have a long season ahead of them and the talk of sporting pitches etc seem to be reserved for discussions over a drink in a bar.

The importance that a first-class match deserves seems to be missing. Therefore the inference that administrators in many venues are committed to the cause of cricket only if revenue generation is possible cannot be considered as harsh or arrogant.

The curators are playing it extremely safe to ensure that the pitches do not “misbehave” and as a result the final product is a featherbed of a surface wherein neither the bowlers nor the batsmen relish playing. The curators at venues where World Cup matches are scheduled are under the scanner of the ICC alright, but dishing out a pitch as dead as a dodo is akin to a banker looking to make money without lending money at all!

What the curators seem to ignore is that a pitch that lasts the full four days without lending enjoyment to the players is the worst endorsement for the game as well as to their professional expertise. It is rather a pity to hear the curators desperately trying to impress upon the players and the coaches that the bounce and carry were international class!

The bubble burst at the Kotla early this year and that was due to the laxity of the pitches committee. Of course, the committee was disbanded immediately after the fiasco, but it is a shame that accountability is something that almost everyone is shy about.

The batting legend of India has been accused of not owning up his responsibilities but the scenario at the lower rungs of the Indian cricket ladder is pathetic. The reports of the umpires, match referees and the rest are normally nothing but an exercise in some amateur public relations which gives the BCCI supremos a false sense of confidence that all is well.

At a time when the Indian team is on top, it becomes imperative that the administrators at the State level ensure that the commitment levels are far superior than what they actually are currently. The infrastructure is being developed at a rapid pace at many centres but unfortunately, the non-World Cup venues that host the first-class matches are taking the issue of pitches very lightly.

It has to be remembered that it is the first-class level that is the supply line for the National team and hence good pitches at that level assumes greater significance.

The counter argument to my viewpoint will be the success of the debutant from Rajasthan, Deepak Chahar, who went through the Hyderabad batting lineup like a hot knife through butter. That is a one-off case and it could have been due to a combination of some good bowling aided by some ordinary batting.

Agreed that the scoresheet need not necessarily reflect the true nature of the pitch but by and large the cricketers in the domestic circuit will agree that a lot more needs to be done in terms of enhancing the quality of pitches.

The sporting pitches tune is sung whenever Team India gets dismissed cheaply but beyond that very little has been done by way of action.

The focus is on World Cup and while there is nothing wrong in preparing well for the big event, it does not make sense to ignore renovating the foundation when the cracks are beginning to develop.

In as much as the procedures and processes are important, as found out by a couple of IPL franchisees, it is equally important that the processes and procedures are put in place by the respective state administrators for the overall betterment of cricket.

A lot of expectation has been generated in Karnataka with former cricketers deciding to jump into the administration and it remains to be seen if they go on to take over the reins. While getting into the system may not be a bigger problem, rectifying the existing system and creating a new and foolproof process will most definitely be the ultimate challenge for Kumble, Srinath and his other colleagues.

They have taken a bold decision and hopefully they will go on to succeed in their quest to take Karnataka cricket to greater heights. Good luck fellows, and I am sure you will all need a lot of it.



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