Delhi is in danger of losing the right to host any matches in the 2011 cricket World Cup, scheduled for February-March next year.
Why? Because the Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) has not followed the rehabilitation plan set in place for the Ferozeshah Kotla pitch by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
DDCA has paid scant attention to the ICC's directions for improving the ground:
ICC advice: Don't play at Kotla after IPL 3; let the pitch settle
DDCA response: Held trials for under-14, allowed local matches through April and early May
ICC advice: Start fixing the ground as soon as the last Delhi IPL 3 match ends on April 19
DDCA response: Started work only on May 16
ICC advice: Use chemical treatment to get rid of weeds on pitch and surroundings. Do not dig them out
DDCA response: Excavated the area to remove the weeds, left craters in the outfield.
In his latest inspection, Andy Atkinson, the ICC pitch consultant responsible for certifying World Cup venues, has given the Kotla a 'red' rating — the worst of four possible colour categories. A copy of the report, circulated among top ICC
officials, is with HT.
Ferozeshah Kotla narrowly escaped a total ICC ban after the last One Day International held there -- against Sri Lanka in December 2009 –had to be called off because the pitch proved positively dangerous, the rising ball injuring several batsmen.
The ICC thereafter suggested several measures to improve the pitch, none of which have been taken seriously.
For one, the DDCA pushed back the start of the renovation work from April 19, as advised by the ICC, by almost a month to May 16. There were many other transgressions.
In his report Atkinson leaves no doubt as to the consequences of the DDCA's actions.
"The delay in the start of work was completely avoidable and the loss of a complete month could have significant implications for the completion of the scheduled work to the accepted standards and the reinstatement of the venue for International cricket and for use during the World Cup 2011," he wrote.