Authorities deny change of venue for final October 18, 2006

Brabourne pitch draws flak

Cricinfo staff

Groundstaff work to get the Brabourne pitch into shape on the eve of the match between Australia and West Indies © AFP

Even as Australia take on West Indies today, the pitch at Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium has come under serious scrutiny. The two matches played here so far in this tournament have been poor contests, with a dry, crumbling surface restricting totals in both games to below 200.

Raj Singh Dungarpur, the president of the Cricket Club of India (CCI), who are responsible for the ground, admitted that all was not well. "With the monsoon having just ended, our staff did not get enough time to prepare good wickets for the tournament," he told AFP yesterday. "We will see how the wicket behaves on Wednesday when Australia play the West Indies.

"If it still has low bounce, I will put my hands up. I will ask the ICC to shift the final, scheduled to be held here on November 5, to some other venue."

"I can't blame anyone," Dungarpur added. "My staff have tried their best to make a sporting wicket in the short time available. But it has not worked."

There has been a lot of speculation on a change of venue being contemplated for the final in light of the pitch's unpredictability. However, Brian Murgatroyd, the ICC spoksman, said, "we have more than two weeks to go for the final. The ICC has no intention of moving the final to another venue. Any such talk at this point of time would be premature and alarmist."

The venue is only being used because ICC regulations demanded stadiums free of private advertising commitments, and that ruled out many major locations, including Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium.

The Brabourne was dropped as the city's major international venue in 1974 when a row between the CCI and the Indian board over ticket allocations led to the board building a rival venue, the Wankhede.