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Sight Screen

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Pitch imperfect

Here comes another bright idea -- this, from chairman of the pitches committee Venkat Sundaram, who says the corporate sector should be involved in making pitches.
Mr Sundaram said a course should be introduced for curators to enable them to enhance their knowledge on preparation of pitches.

Makes you ask -- how about a course for captains and team managements, that teaches them not to land up at a venue less than 48 hours ahead of the game and ask the pitch to be altered? Or a course for the BCCI, and state associations, on not using the preparation of pitches to score political points? I mean, come on -- Venkat Sundaram should know most of our curators are, left to themselves, capable of making you any kind of pitch you want; plus, over the last few years, from importing soil analysis specialists from NZ to go around the country giving talks (was quite hilarious, actually -- the bloke talking away, at one venue, in rapidfire English and his chief audience, our mostly illiterate but very savvy curators, staring blankly at one another) -- to holding seminars on pitch preparation, it's all been done.
Each time a former player takes over the pitch committee, though, he feels the need to hold a seminar. Reminds me, actually, of chatting up the venerable old curator of the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. This was during one of those BCCI-inspired spells of heartburn re the condition of our pitches, so I asked him about it. And got a disgusted sniff in return. I asked for a translation of the sniff, and got this -- in more or less the same words: 'Yes, the pitches chairman has asked us to prepare evenly balanced pitches. This pitches chairman was once captain of India; he came down here three days before a Test match and made us shave every bit of grass off the wicket, water it, roll it flat, and make a square turner. And in the match, he actually bowled an over or two of off spin.' The curator was, of course, speaking of Kapil Dev -- who, at the time, was serving out his own stint as chairman of the pitches committee, a job he suddenly quit, stating that since the committee hadn't met even once well towards the end of his tenure, he saw no point in continuing.


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    By Blogger Askinstoo, at 12:48  

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    By Blogger Askinstoo, at 12:48  

  • prem

    who gives the curators the primary instructions on what kind of a pitch is required- BCCI?

    if so do they consult with the team management about this?

    By Blogger JD, at 12:55  

  • Prem,

    Found this article by Dravid in the TOI e-paper. Btw, I find the e-paper to be a million times better than the online edition.

    We are not scared of making mistakes

    By Rahul Dravid

    In our one day series win against Sri Lanka there has been no one particular hero. Everyone has played well accept, some players have been recognised more, while others, slightly less. It’s been a total team effort and I’ll not mention any names as all 16 players and the support staff did a great job and made a significant contribution to our result.
    Our depth of talent and performance totally caught the Sri Lankan’s on the back foot. They had come to expect the Indian side by a few individual performances but our team work took them by surprise.
    At critical moments of the match, when the fortunes of the side could swing either way or it needed players who could turn the match, our players did that better and what was heartening was that there were different players taking the responsibility at different times. Beating good teams consistently requires good performances from most of the players and a few star performances don’t make for a consistent run.
    History is filled with great players who have won matches individually but without other good players around them, they have never been part of a great and successful team. Michael Jordan was a great individual talent long before the Chicago Bulls realised that they need to support his individual brilliance with other good players and with team ethic. The results were there for all to see.
    It did help that we won the first four games which gave us the opportunity to try out new players. It’s not always you get these opportunities so it’s best to use it when one presents itself. The players have responded well to some of the challenges thrown to them and we want them to view this as opportunity and grow as cricketers. If they grow, the team grows with them.
    The ability to bowl, bat and field at different times, situations and positions, is not only invaluable to the team but also the own players development. Keeping players physically, emotionally and mentally fit for a long season is very important. If there are a lot of performers it helps a few players who have to perform all the time which can be very draining. The fielding was a stand out feature of the series and the energy and the vibe was excellent.
    We, as a team, are not getting carried away with this one series and we know we have a long way to go and our efforts will be to make this a better side and I’m sure we will make a few mistakes along the way as well. But the worst we can do is to be scared of making mistakes and being criticised for them.

    By Blogger rp, at 12:55  

  • I think the complete "Match organisation" should be given to a third party.
    I mean i am sick of seeing disturbances in front of the sitescreen, this has been happening since eternity, and dont know how long will it go.
    scores of people with bright colours sitting close to it.
    Why cnat these staff be briefed strictly and get professional in what they are doing . but again that is wishful thinking ..

    By Blogger Pankaj Tripathi, at 12:58  

  • Pitch was imperfect. Indian batsmen were, used to belters, could not face moving delieveries.

    This is ideal pitch for batsmen and bowlers. ODI score in 250-270 and bowling getting its fair share will be nice to watch.

    Whereas in recent times...teams are scoring 700 runs in a day...makes boring to watch all gilli danda.

    By Blogger Rajg, at 12:59  

  • Yes, Pitch was good. Our batsman were used to play flat tracks and srilankan bowlers. So, they just did not make amends when ball was moving. Had the top order showed little application we would have scored 275 which I bet would be winning total. As far as I see there is nothing to panic. Now that everyone knows that south africans are more disciplined than SL, little care would be taken and we will be back to winning ways.

    By Blogger Yorker, at 13:11  

  • jd: most times, the curators are told by the state association to prepare a pitch for a particular fixture and, most times, given the most rudimentary briefs. the problem comes when various 'officials' then start fiddling with the process, the pitches committee bloke sometimes pops by (is, after all, the only way he can earn his per diem) and does his own number, then the team lands up and often, takes one look at the track and go no way, jose, where's that razor? start shaving. On top of that, given how we schedule our games, the curators only know rather late in the day that their pitch is chosen for a game. Pitch preparation is not like lego, where you take bits and pieces and fit it where you want at whim -- unless you decide, well ahead of time, what kind of pitch you want, give the curator clear instructions, and then leave him alone to do his stuff, you will never really be able to answer for the results. For instance, assume the curator starts out making a quick, bouncy track with even bounce and carry, good for both batting and bowling. He will tend to leave a layer of grass on the deck. This will involve a certain style of daily watering and light rolling. And if you leave it be, you will get a decent track that helps seam, and on which you can score if you know how. But then, if you say 48 hours ahead of the game do a course correction and go, wait, knock the grass off, the best the curator can do is shave off the surface. He doesn't have time to actually get down to the roots, then relay the top layer. Here, if you shave the surface grass off, what you are left is a sub-cutaneous layer of roots, that have retained the water and contribute to a moist top -- which will produce exaggerated movement early in the game, then settle into docility once the sun does its stuff. Result, a lop-sided pitch -- not because the curator didn't know what to do, but because all concerned couldn't make up their tiny minds.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 13:15  

  • this in a way a good thing. it most have knocke the top order out of their comfort zones. now we'll know if this team is the real deal if they can come back and win the series

    By Blogger JD, at 13:16  

  • yorker
    yup. i do think there is no real need to get too worked up by this - after all we cannot win every match - we are still #7 and south africa are #2 so we gotta expect an extremely tough fight right ??

    despite being 5/3 and 35/5 that we took the game to the 99th over is extremely creditable. also we were unlucky today with the toss and a couple of umpiring decisions - it could have easily gone the other way

    i think we should take it easy and i am confident we will come back stronger having learnt from this defeat

    By Blogger GK, at 13:16  

  • shouldnt the selectors or the team management have a say in the type of pitch they want. either that or the selectors should get a pitch report from the curator and give the team bowlers based on that. if the team does not have 3 spinners at their disposal, the captain wont go around asking for a turner

    By Blogger JD, at 13:18  

  • well unofficially the home team does have a say in the making of the pitch i think and i wouldnt want it to go further than that ... otherwise where will the charm of playing on varied wickets and adapting them go ?

    By Blogger GK, at 13:20  

  • I am looking forward to the SA tactics for the day night matches. They have shown that their pacers are in reasonable form, so will they bat first and let the INdians handle a pitch where the dew might help their bowlers, at least initially? Or will they just opt to chase all the time, thereby negating the Indian spinners who'll bowl with a wet ball?

    By Blogger Toney, at 13:27  

  • Toney, As I mentioned earlier bowling is
    our weak link. We are not consistent enough to trouble the best of the world on flat tracks. Our bowlers needs lots of run to defend. 250's won't cut it.

    By Blogger squarecut, at 13:30  

  • Prem - Are you thinking of having your own website? Do you think you will do that given the popularity of this blog and also the 'nuisance creators who spoil the fun for all'

    By Blogger @mit, at 13:31  

  • Amit, dont think Prem is aware of the issue yet :)

    By Blogger Toney, at 13:32  

  • Now that we know there isn't too much to choose among the two teams... there is the toss :)
    Isnt this common sense that in winter with so much of dew the game suffers as a whole.
    Why is hard for these people running the game understand .
    Just becuase you have lights, you will use them.
    THe stadiums in big cities in india will be full any given day .. TV audiance :Hmm that may play a role...
    But again what whould be priority ?? anybody ?

    By Blogger Pankaj Tripathi, at 13:33  

  • amit: boss, I do this for fun. setting up a website, dealing with idiots -- all of it is too much like work; why would I go there? Besides, my assignments are unpredictable -- who knows, tomorrow the company might wish something on me that leave me little or no time for this. Here, I can pull away if I have to -- why start a website and lock myself in?

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 13:40  

  • Prem,
    What Amit was probably suggesting was, at present, nick names needn't be unique. So, I can post as "prem panicker" if I want to :). Some guys took this to the enxt level yesterday.
    Probably, you could ask the tech service to restrict posting only if user names are disclosed, user names being unique?

    By Blogger Toney, at 13:46  

  • Prem:
    I agree with you 100%. Fun is the key word. You do not have to do anything more and put up with all the hassles. If only we have a way to atleast trackdown the imposters or add some security with in the present up wherin we cannot dupe the UID's. There absolutely should be a way. I Never worked on BLOG configurations. So do not know how to myself. But I would be surprised if the tool does not comeup with such a feature. I am sure someone else who are on this blog would. If so they can contact you.

    By Blogger ramshorns, at 13:54  

  • Prem:

    Do you see any changes in the playing 12 for the 2nd ODI?

    By Blogger Ruchir Joshi, at 13:58  

  • hats off to SA for first of all capitalizing on whatever the pitch offerred initaially and their un-fazed approach in the end. Yeah, pitch had eased out, etc. etc., but, you still need to make the 250 runs and kallis - prince and later kemp slowly but surely took the game away. I also noticed that they handled the spinners beautifully...I dont think they are number#2 team by accident. Let us see what GC & RD plan out the rest of the series. tough fight ahead folks...

    By Blogger greg2rescue, at 14:00  

  • guys
    my brother was at the game in HYD. he was there at 7.15AM at the ground. he said it was there for the fans to see how well they were responding to the pregame rituals of GC and staff and the attention they are paying to him. he said he was very impressed. he has been to few other games but saw nothing close to this kind of drills. let us hope it is a bad day at the office for the top order. also he said that sachin/rd were conversing often and things of that nature made a lot of difference to the fans at the game and they were very appreciative of the effort after being virually out of it in first 11 overs. just want to pass that on to you from a fan perspective.

    By Blogger ramshorns, at 14:18  

  • toney: this is a blogger run service, don't really have a say in these things. Besides, I reckon folks here pretty much know which is me and which not, so hey, what the hell? The worst that will happen is someone makes statements in my name, which I didn't make -- but again, so what? Seriously don't give a damn; I am not about to break a sweat over a random idiot or two, frankly

    rams: sure, if any of you have any ideas, go for it :-)

    ruchir: i suspect india is trying to juggle several issues. And the chief of them is they are a bit concerned at VS's form, hence GG in the 12 this time. Another factor is, they believe five bowlers works better than four just now -- fair enough, since they don't have a decent fifth bowling option or even combination as on date. Given all this, the think tank is in a bit of a fix -- if they bring GG in, they lose out on the more natural supersub, Raina. My take would be, bullets are meant for biting -- if VS is a real concern, don't try a bit of this and a bit of that -- simply make the call, one way or other. He is VC, he is involved in these discussions, he knows he has to score. So if you pick him, put the onus on him to deliver, knowing there is no safety net. Or if you think his current form is such he needs a cushion, then sit him out, bring in GG. Another change I might consider making is bringing Raina in for Kaif. No, not knocking Kaif, or knee-jerking after on game -- just that through the series even v SL, I thought he was way below par. Being rested is not some kind of terminal illness -- right now, I'd think Raina has the momentum, the nous, to make the squad, and Kaif could do with a breather; the fact that I can do this without impacting adversely on fielding standards makes the choice easier. One thing I wouldn't do though is chop and change the team too much just now -- any experimentation will have to wait till the team seals the series.

    I'd look at putting, on the park, SRT, VS (or GG), RD, YS, SR, IP, MSD (with the understanding that these three last named players are all floaters I will use in any way the match demands), AA, Bajji, MK, RPS. The line up forces me to chose between a batsman and a bowler as supersub, but I am okay with that, actually -- I'd make the pick purely on the basis of ground conditions; if I reckon it will help the bowlers, I'll pick a batsman and vice versa.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 14:19  

  • Need lunch, guys. See you later in the day

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 14:20  

  • Prem...not discounting your idea of playing SR, GG.....but Kaif came only for last two matches in SL series...first up had that unbroken partnership with Yuv...looked to play anchor while Yuv made merry....and then last match where made some 10 odd runs. You found him not up to the notch there?

    And btw you say: any experimentation will have to wait till the team seals the series - well then no chance in this series I would think? ;-)...do you expect, even if we do win this series, for it to not go all the way down to the decider?

    By Blogger worma, at 14:34  

  • worma: Hey, like I said, not knocking Kaif, merely suggesting that in those games, he did get the runs on the board, but IMHO looked a bit ill at ease. I'd want to try and put on the park as many guys as are buzzing as possible, hence the switch.

    As to the other -- if it goes down to the wire, fine, no real experimentation, merely horses for courses. Besides, all the players are the same as the ones who played the SL series, it is not like we have brought in new faces we need to give an airing to, so if it comes to that, this series can be about picking the right eleven for each day and that will not necessarily cause us any grief :-)

    Later, you guys... just managed to round up company for lunch.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 14:41  

  • Sehwag SL Series statistics

    7 7 0 221 48 31.57

    Sehwag career statistics
    136 4014 130 31.60 7

    Looking at the stats, he pretty much played the same way as he played in his career. He is getting starts not converting them. I would give him a couple of more chances(even in the middle order) before dropping him

    By Blogger Poondu, at 14:42  

  • It may not be a bad idea to use Sehwag as a super-sub...that way he gets a nudge that he has to perform to be in the 11. I'm sure he knows that but something like this might make him focus more...and as a super-sub he can come in late in the order and provide the fireworks along with Dhoni & Pathan. I think opening the batting Sehwag feels as if he has to make best use of the fielding restrictions and plays a rash shot even when he looks good to score a big one. At the same time I feel Gambhir is just as suspect against this SA new ball attack...can see him getting out caught behind just like he did in today's match. He deserves an opportunity all the same.

    By Blogger ClannZú, at 14:49  

  • poondu,
    The difference in those statistics is VS gets the odd big innings which hasnt been comng in these two series.

    By Blogger Toney, at 15:19  

  • Hypothesis: Bowler (preferably MK) should be supersub in the rest of the games.
    Proof: If I were to analyze the future games, I would say that we need to play to our strengths. Our forte is batting and hence we need to pack the side with batsmen who need to go out unpressured and unfettered to take on the SA bowling. Clearly, there was pressure in the first game and it showed especially in RD, GG, MSD and MK's dismissals. Not much time faced by VS to comment on pressure.
    But he usually doesn't care.
    These guys need to go out with the attitude that they are the ones who are going to help the bowlers. The bowlers play a support role and intelligent shuffling should suffice while defending a huge total or trying to prevent SA from running away with a very huge total.
    Go back to the four bowlers (YS/SRT/VS make up the fifth) formula and have a bowler as a supersub. In case we bat first and make a huge score, we can rest one of GG, MK to bring in a bowler. In we bowl first, don't use the supersub unless SA is in a position to get 275+.
    If we play to our weakness and go in with the assumption that IP is going to get tonked therefore I need MK as a fifth, it is defensive.

    By Blogger sauravganguly, at 15:29  

  • Down with Dravid... Bad captaincy... Placemnet of Fielders, bowling chnage... simple calculations of the best bowlers wre not in his mind...India was a tiger in from of a lame and old lion- the Sri Lnakans... bring him in front of the Africal Lion's with class.. we are sitting ducks...

    Down with dravid... bring back sourav.. captaincy matters ..and should not be in the hands of pesudo intelligent withdrawn novices in a team game like cricket..The throne should be with the tigers...bring back sourav...

    By Blogger tami_telu_Nort, at 16:43  

  • for D/N matches if we bowl second this what we should do
    bring spinners on after 10 overs before dew factor come in, may be even hold off one power play
    say after 20 overs bowl a quickie and a spinner in tandem

    By Blogger cricfan, at 17:34  

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