One of the lesser known norms for laying a cricket pitch is that it should be along the North-South direction. This is to ensure the sun is never in the batsman’s eyes, be it morning or evening.
The Green Park track defies this norm. The pitch in this pre-independence era venue is laid East-West. Mornings here have seen the batsmen’s long shadow on the pitch as the sun goes up from behind the Hostel End. The batsman at the Pavilion End, and the wicketkeeper, get the rays directly in their eyes. The problem end switches in the evening – batting at the Hostel End becomes an issue.
This flawed layout is probably why this match can’t go on till late in the evening.
Play had to end at 4.45 pm on Saturday despite the need to bowl many overs to compensate for those lost on Friday when the final session was washed out.
Altogether 36 overs were lost on Friday, the third day’s play on Saturday saw only an extra six overs bowled.
The remaining 30 may not be bowled. A comprehensive win for India, which looks likely, may not raise a need for those lost overs to be bowled, and the issue will be brushed under the carpet.
Experts tasked with the laying and maintenance of the pitch say that any deviation from the norm must be minimal. The maximum a pitch can deviate is 15 degrees. Apart from the path of the sun and lengthening shadows, the magnetic compass too proved how flawed the pitch has been.
A senior official said, “I didn’t know about it. But changing it may leave the Board in an embarrassing position. People will laugh that it allowed the game to be played all these years despite such a flaw.”
As the ground belongs to the local corporation and not the UP state association, changing anything might be cumbersome.
If players have not raised a din, it could be because almost all the 21 Tests held at Green Park before this game were during the winter months when sunlight is not harsh and the sun’s course may have eased the discomfort.