The idea behind playing Ranji Trophy matches at neutral venues in the coming season is to provide equal opportunity to both the teams. But the BCCI’s dependence on state association curators could render this noble idea ineffective as the strength of the Grounds and Pitches Committee is inadequate.
Twenty eight teams will play 124 Ranji matches at 40 venues, but the board has only 10 curators. It would be a logistical challenge for these curators to oversee the local groundstaff tasked with the preparation of the playing surface.
“The home associations will prepare the pitches and BCCI curators will oversee the preparation. The idea behind playing at neutral venues is that none of the teams should enjoy conditions suitable only to them,” MV Sridhar, General Manager Cricket Operations, BCCI, told HT on Saturday.
But with BCCI set to host 13 Tests, eight ODIs and 3 T20 internationals during the 2016-2017 season, its curators face a challenging task to simultaneously prepare pitches for international and domestic matches.
“You can’t tell state association curators how to prepare pitches over phone or through e-mail,” said a BCCI curator. “One should be there to work with them for preparing a quality pitch. But we have only a few curators. It’s going to be a challenge for us. ”
Additionally, it seems the BCCI has taken the decision to play the entire Ranji season at neutral venues without consulting or taking into confidence its Grounds and Pitches Committee. HT spoke to a few members of the committee on Saturday and it was clear that all of them came to know the schedule and venues only through newspapers or TV channels.
“We have not heard anything from the BCCI. Hope they will send us some instructions soon,” said a committee member.
As the BCCI and its Grounds and Pitches Committee completely depend on neutral ground staff, they also have a huge challenge of maintaining standards as a total of 918 matches will be played this season, which comprise the Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy, Deodhar Trophy, Ranji trophy, Irani Trophy, women’s matches and other age-group matches.