The BCCI will start a certification course for curators in July, on the lines of its courses for coaches and umpires. It could go a long way to improve the lot of the often ridiculed, snubbed and sometimes banned Indian pitches.
"After watching how our batsmen continue to score tons at will in the Ranji Trophy and struggle in tough overseas conditions, we felt the need to have livelier pitches. For that, we need certified and competent curators," said BCCI joint secretary Anurag Thakur. "Former cricketers and those who deal with soil, like horticulture graduates, will be preferred for the course."
Currently, curators have to learn on the job and, in the absence of any standard process, pitch-preparation for many is a trial and error affair. The decision, said Punjab Cricket Association curator, Daljit Singh, will lay down the norms for laying and maintaining pitches. "Hopefully, this will ensure we will have sporting wickets across the country."
Clash of interest
Closely connected to this, is the suggestion to hold Ranji matches on neutral venues. In preparing a wicket for matches not involving the home team, the curator would work impartially and without any pressure from the home association.
In this context, the technical committee, headed by Sourav Ganguly, not agreeing with the Working Committee's suggestion to play at neutral venues comes as a downer. The panel's recommendation that two points be deducted from the hosts' tally if officials find the wicket under-prepared, sounds good in theory, but not in practice.
"Will match referees have the courage to call the wicket, say in Chennai or in the backyard of any other powerful board official, sub-standard and deduct points? I seriously doubt that," said a BCCI insider. "Unless we play at neutral venues, the move to have qualified curators will have little impact."
The technical committee's decision to stick with home and away Ranji games was questioned as Ganguly is still active. "Maybe he doesn't want to deny himself a chance to play in the comfort of the home ground," he said.