By Nadim Memon | Opening Doorz Editorial | December 08, 2016

nadimmemoncolumnCan you guess who the most harassed person is when a cricket match is being played at any venue in India?

It’s no secret. The answer is simple: In India, it is the pitch curator who has the toughest job in cricket. I know what it takes to make a wicket that will bring results in a Test match; or a wicket that will be fair to both teams in a One-dayer! So do the other Curators, but none of them are given a free hand to exploit their expertise, in terms of the soil knowledge, ground condition, weather reading as well as assimilating the strength and weakness of the home as well as the visiting team.

The Curators are always tense before the start of a series or a match, awaiting the orders from the State Association bosses as to what type of pitches they should prepare, be it for a Test match, a One-dayer, T-20 or even a Ranji Trophy encounter. Should it be a green top, or a wicket that will aid spin after two days? The State Association bosses on their part are awaiting orders from the Board of Control for Cricket In India (BCCI).

The BCCI has appointed a National Curator, whose job it is to visit all State Associations and overlook the preparation of wickets before a match with a message from the BCCI Bosses. This ‘expert’ is sent three days before the start of a match!

What can a Curator do in three days? At least the ‘expert’ should come 10 days in advance if what he has in mind for the pitch needs to be executed.

‘Away’ and ‘Home’ Ranji matches
Earlier, in the league stage, Ranji Trophy Cricket would be played on the ‘Away’ and ‘Home’ basis. Not anymore. Why? The BCCI Technical Committee is of the opinion that state sides will prepare wickets favouring the strength of their players! Hence, they prefer a neutral venue. So what is the outcome of their imagined fear? They send the players on “Bharat Darshan!”

For eg: Mumbai will play Rajasthan in Mysore or Dharmashala! The result is worse than what was expected. No one is happy. Sorry, some people are happy since the BCCI has found a way to incur expenses. 17 curators from the BCCI are always touring with six members of the BCCI Pitch Committee preparing pitches on neutral venues. Calculate the hotel, travel and miscellaneous expenses and one can easily understand the volume of money wasted.

Having matches on a neutral venue is a big setback. “It is tiring,” is the oft-heard complaint from cricketers. Some captains have opposed this move preferring instead the ‘Home’ and ‘Away’ format. These players were asked to “Shut up” by an office-bearer when they voiced their opinion at a meeting.

‘Desktop experts’ teach our Curators
There are people in the decision making process who have hardly played any cricket or have any knowledge regarding the preparation and making of pitches. These are the very people who give instructions regarding the nature of a pitch during a series or National tournaments. We all know what the old adage, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” means! Our ‘Desktop Experts’ have done their reading of books and on the internet regarding the pitches in countries like England, South Africa, Australia, West Indies, Zimbabwe or New Zealand. Their views are not advisable or acceptable in India as it does not suit the Indian conditions. Yet, they advise the curators and insist they implement it.

We know that the Doctor is always, almost right. He has spent years to hone his skills and knows the human body and how it will react to certain medications or stress levels. Ditto a Pitch Curator. He has spent years learning his craft. Will you tell a doctor what medication you should be given? The BCCI Curator Committee is teaching our world class Curators!

Unless the BCCI bosses don’t give a free hand to the Curator to prepare a pitch worthy of an international match, we will never achieve the standards we hope to attain. Give the Curator his due. Take those with vested interest in the game out from the decision making body. Bring in former cricketers with expertise and knowledge of the game and those who know to respect the knowledge of others as well. Then you will see World Class pitches in India.

Our bosses in BCCI want a “Yes Man” to feed their ego. If they tell a Curator, “See that donkey running so fast,” and the curator says “Yes Sir, that donkey is fast,” that is what will please them.

But Sir, woh gadha nahi, who toh ghoda hai!

Also read: Sachin Tendulkar returns to put the fizz back into schools cricket

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