The dastardly tale of a spinning Indian pitch
Saturday, 30th April So it turns out that the West Indies selectors can, after all, just about find room for Ramnaresh Sarwan in their exciting new team of all the talents. And who knows, if the young fella applies himself, he might one day be a regular, like those stalwarts, Marlon “Misadventure” Samuels and Devon “Disappointing” Smith.
Ramnaresh’s return from the naughty step does not, though, imply that his fellow troublemaker Shivnarine Chanderpaul will be forgiven. He is currently engaged in a duel by letter with Ernest Hilaire, and though the details of the spat are too wearisome to go into, it is vaguely charming in this electronic age to see two men slugging it out the old-fashioned way: via the postal service.
Sunday, 1st May Indian pitch in “spin-friendly” shock! Yes it’s true. The wicket in Jaipur was so constituted that it enabled spin bowlers to cause the ball to deviate sideways more easily than might otherwise have been the case. Scandalous. Mumbai have complained, or not, depending on your point of view, and Shane Warne has hit back at the unwarranted slur/non-existent accusation.
So what happened to the Jaipur pitch? I tried to find the answer on the internet. As far as I can gather, the moisture is being sucked up by a giant invisible alien tree planted in the outfield by Martian gardeners with links to Pakistani bookmakers, in exchange for crates of counterfeit brandname sports gear, stolen iPhones and pirated copies of Yuvraj Singh’s debut album, Yuvi Love.
But what’s the problem? So what if the surface at Jaipur was dryer than a packet of sand-flavoured crisps? Who cares if Kochi’s pitch was crustier than the rejects bin at Pies Pies Pies Plc, the world’s leading pie and pastry purveyor? Pitches, like wine, should reflect the character and soil of their locale. India is a generally dry and dusty country, ergo most Indian pitches will be dry and dusty. And if that sometimes makes life harder for lazy sloggers, then splendid.
Monday, 2nd May Watching too much top-class sport can be a drag. Real Madrid versus Barcelona is all very well but too much of that kind of thing and you start to yearn for the gritty pleasures that come when the mediocre take on the ordinary. What do I mean? Well, take today’s game between Delhi and Kochi. The Daredevils, as we know, are all top hat and no trousers and Kochi do as well as a team can be expected to do whilst dressed like the Muppets on a trip to the seaside.
When two not-very-good cricket sides go to war, a half-decent score is usually enough and so it proved. But just to put the purpley-orange cap on the thing, up stepped Irfan Pathan, to remind us all that the key to being just short of top class is a thrilling and unpredictable inconsistency. His opening over provided a benchmark of inaccuracy with some delightfully curving leg-side wides that the wicketkeeper hadn’t a hope of stopping.
Keep this up Kochi and sixth place is yours!
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England