The importance of having a good cricketing wicket was emphasised by the Champions League matches in Hyderabad as well as the one-day game between India and Australia in Nagpur. The pitches here were hard, had good bounce and good carry to the wicketkeeper, and batsmen could play their shots without worrying too much about the ball scooting along the ground or jumping from any length.
The quick bowler who was ready to bend his back and the spinner who was prepared to give the ball a real tweak was rewarded by the bounce and turn respectively. And because the ball would come on to the bat, the good players were able to use that to play the big shots and hit the boundaries and entertain the crowd.
Such pitches will always produce good cricket and the BCCI would do well to reward and encourage such curators so that others too follow their footsteps. Sure, it is understood that India being a big country, the soil will be different from one region to the other. The clay content, moisture factor and the like will be different, but there are still some basics in preparing wickets that should ensure good pitches and subsequently a good game of cricket.
The unseasonal monsoons in some parts of the country may have put paid to the preparations but if Hyderabad, after such a deluge, could still make such a fabulous pitch then there is no excuse for the others not to do so. The curator also must have the freedom to make the pitch, as he knows best without interference from players and officials. And, while, it's a valid point that home advantage shouldn't be frittered away, a good team should do well on any surface.
Pitches like the ones in Hyderabad and Nagpur should be used in domestic first-class and junior-level matches so that our players get used to playing on similar surfaces when they go abroad. What the curators of Hyderabad and Nagpur have shown is that where there is a will there will always be a way and, if left to them, the pitches all over India can turn out to be great ones.
The Champions League matches and the two one-dayers played so far have also shown the Indian umpires in good light. Ever since Srinivas Venkataraghavan retired from international umpiring, there has hardly been any umpire of note from India in international cricket. Yes, there have been the odd ones who have umpired in international games in India where the practice is for one overseas umpire and one local umpire to officiate but for quite some time now there has been nobody in the elite panel of the ICC umpires. The ICC appoints umpires to the elite panel based on the correct decision ratio of all the umpires who officiate in their games. The Indian umpires have been behind in this and so have not progressed to the elite panel. With the BCCI now having its own panel to mentor and help umpires in domestic cricket, there should be some who should be able to make it to the elite panel sooner than later.