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‘Home-and-away’ strategy towards pitches reveals BCCI’s hypocrisy

India’s overdrive in making wickets that blatantly favour their spinners was on display in the Test series against South Africa at home.

cricket Updated: Oct 03, 2016 21:21 IST
Pradeep Magazine
Pradeep Magazine
Hindustan Times
BCCI,India Pitch,India vs New Zealand
indian cricketer Virat Kohli ducks a rising delivery on the third day of the second cricket test match.(AP Photo)

India’s overdrive in making wickets that blatantly favour their spinners was on display in the Test series against South Africa at home.

Those “doctored” wickets against a team that lacked genuine, quality spinners, opened India to criticism and even the International Cricket Council stepped in to censure the Nagpur track. There was no doubt that India had overstepped the line to take unfair advantage of home conditions.

The Indian Board, whose defiance of the Supreme Court could result in an unpleasant outcome on October 6, the day the court hears the case again, has a different view when it comes to taking advantage of home conditions in domestic cricket.

From this year, a massive exercise is underway so that all Ranji Trophy games – around 115 in all – can be played on neutral venues. The reason for such an unprecedented and drastic measure being taken is because teams have gone out of their way to prepare tracks that suit their strength. Some matches last year ended in two days, wickets fell like autumn leaves in windy conditions and the quality of cricket suffered badly.

By taking this decision on neutral venues, the Board inadvertently admitted that such brazen doctoring of wickets is bad for Indian cricket. Though it has an elaborate process in place --- pitches committee and penalties for preparing underprepared tracks – it still has not been able to prevent this widespread phenomenon in domestic cricket.

All this suggests that just like many of its other committees, even the pitches committee is a charade and succumbs to the pressure of the hosts. Despite the Board’s anger, one has not heard of associations being penalised for their “biased” acts.

But that is not the point being made here. The larger question is that if the Board feels “doctoring” wickets at the international level is okay because “national prestige” is involved in the outcome of a match, then why deny the right to local associations? After all, they too want to win and at the regional level, the same principal of prestige can be evoked.

“Operation neutral venue”, obviously has not gone down well with most of the cricketing fraternity, as home and away games, local rivalries, home support and even familiar conditions are an important component of sporting tradition and competition. The same applies at the international level, as long as there is no “unfair” advantage being taken of home conditions.

The Board, instead of strengthening the pitches committee, handing out stringent punishment to those associations which don’t comply, has gone for a measure that on the face of it is illogical.

There are many state associations which would now be indifferent to matches staged on their grounds. They may even then, given the political formulations in the Board, favour a team that serves their voting interests at the time of elections.

There are many reasons to believe why this solution could be worse than the problem itself. At a larger level, it may not be impertinent to say that this reeks of hypocrisy on the part of the Board. It has one standard for those who play for the country and another for those who play for their state.

First Published: Oct 03, 2016 21:21 IST