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Sampath calls for grass pitches in TT

By JONATHAN RAMNANANSINGH Wednesday, May 15 2013

NATIONAL selector, Roland Sampath has blamed the unavailability of seaming and grassy pitches in Trinidad and Tobago for the downfall of our national cricketers, particularly batsmen and pace bowlers, on both the regional and international levels.

Sampath, a former TT all-rounder, made the revelation yesterday after careful assessment and evaluation of the overall performances of the “Red Force” over the past few months of regional tournaments. He was also speaking in relation to TT’s devastating innings and 22-run loss to Barbados in the finals of the 2013 Regional Four-Day competition which concluded at Kensington Oval, Barbados.

The First Citizens Clarke Road club manager stated, “Almost all the pitches in Trinidad and Tobago are bare and show no signs of grass. This country has been known and continues to produce several top spin bowlers, however, we are not seeking the direct interest of the batsmen and pace bowlers when pitches remain grassless.”

According to Sampath, most of the world’s top cricketing venues in Australia, Sri Lanka and England, do have grassy surfaces which inevitably work in favour of their batsman and pacers. He believes that if the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) and the rest of the sport’s local fraternity is to see any competitive progress in the near future, the implementation of grass and more seaming pitches must be utilised.

“All our national teams, whether Under-13 to senior level, prepare at the National Cricket Centre in Couva. However, we are setting a bad precedent here as the players will continuously grow accustomed to playing on pitches that are bare. When they are given the opportunity to compete on a different playing surface with grass, this tends to be our batsmen downfall on most occasions. They are just not familiar competing on grassy surfaces,” he added.

Sampath, who is also the manager of the national Under-19 team, did however discuss some of the solutions that could be made to improve this situation. He thinks that the TTCB should re-surface some of the pitches throughout the twin-island republic and ensure that grass is grown and properly maintained up to required international playing standards. This would provide local clubs, who provide the main avenue for players’ selection to the national team, with opportunities to familiarise themselves with pitches with increased seam movement. In the long run, locals would eventually have the right balance and understanding of masterfully playing on both bare and grassy pitches to them and the nation’s advantage.

He continued, “I have said this many times to members of the TTCB but nothing has been done to date. This is a national issue that is being overlooked and more attention should be placed on this matter. The TTCB should take the leading role in assuring these issues are handled properly. What I think should also be done is that we educate and train our groundsmen and curators, so that they can alos have a professional idea of how cricket pitches should be cared for an maintained over a lengthy period of time.”

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