Challenge of cricket pitches


An aerial view of the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, in Tarouba.  - Newsday File Photo/Jeff Mayers
An aerial view of the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, in Tarouba. - Newsday File Photo/Jeff Mayers

A cricket pitch is the essence of a proper game of cricket.

Without the vagaries of the pitch on which the game unfolds, the contest between the teams could turn out to be dull. For instance, a three-, four- or five-day game should not have a bland pitch similar to one which would suit the showdown of a one-day game. Hence the first-class game and the Test match will need similar pitch preparation.

The challenge, on the other hand, in the limited-over variety will be for the ground curators to present a surface devoid of any assistance for the bowler, while demonstrating an even bounce of consistent height and pace, giving the batsman an unfettered advantage to score runs in his brief time at the crease.

The plan for the fielding captain is to search for ways and means to limit this free scoring so it can be reduced to a gettable total that would win the match. It’s as simple as that.

In one semi-final of the ICC T20 World Cup, Afghanistan were bowled out against South Africa for 56 on a horrible T20 pitch.

It was shameful for CWI and the curators. CWI, the administrators of cricket in the Caribbean, fluffed the preparation of pitches to the extent that the wickets chosen to play on at the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium were not suitable for a club match, far less for a semi-final of the WC.

This pitch, actually presented to the players, was such a stain, not only on the TT Cricket Board, but on the reputation of CWI, that the embarrassment would stick to the people of the Caribbean of seeming totally ignorant of the requirements of a pitch necessary for a keen and fair contest of two teams representing their nations.

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I understand that Kent Crafton, the head curator for the pitches used in the WC, being just one individual, would not be able to oversee all the pitches for which he was responsible. However, he must have known that the pitch curators throughout the Caribbean and the USA would not have the acumen and wide experience for producing the pitches needed for the tournament. Hence he ought to have given closer supervision to these venues, or have some personnel with the necessary experience and/or qualifications assist him in this vital job.

One would have thought that the head curator at these individual cricket fields would have had the competence to prepare a pitch suited for a 20-over game. Nevertheless, the pitch for an all-important, crucial game like a WC semi-final was unsuitable for any type of cricket match. That’s how bad it was. It did not even last ten overs per team, a form of game that is played now, consisting of just ten overs per side. The crowd was cheated. The pitch for the final at Barbados, was a good one. The one at St. Lucia, thankfully, played well for a T20 contest. Crafton is from St. Lucia, thus it looks very much that he was looking after his own, however, it seems he was not in a position to closely supervise all the other pitches under his purview.

Therefore, to say that the pitches were mismanaged fails as an excuse because essentially, Crafton is responsible for all the pitches, hence, he’s the “manager” of all and should have had the expertise to do the job and manage the pitches at all six venues.

It is interesting to note that the Queen’s Park Oval, which was not chosen as a venue for the T20 WC, had been selected to host some warm-up games, including between WI and Australia. In this match, which the organisers thought would be a pretty good contest enabling them to charge an entrance fee, the spectators got their money’s worth. WI scored 257 and the Aussies replied with 222 for 8. Although a warm-up game, it was not as light-hearted as one would think: the cricket was very serious, as cricketers played to round into form and found this ideal for match practice.

That wicket was good and allowed the batsmen to play their shots and build their confidence. It made one curious why the historic Oval ground, with its reputation of accommodating international teams officially since 1930, was bypassed. Plus the fact that it is in the capital city and easier to access in preference to the BLCS.

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"Challenge of cricket pitches"

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