India v England, 3rd Test, Kolkata November 28, 2012

BCCI to aid in preparing Eden Gardens pitch


The BCCI has asked Ashish Bhowmick, a member of its ground and pitches committee, to assist Prabir Mukherjee, the groundsman at Eden Gardens, in preparing the pitch for the third Test against England, which begins in Kolkata on December 5. It seems a routine move, part of BCCI's policy of getting one of the committee members to oversee the preparation of Test pitches, but it has been the focus of speculation, considering MS Dhoni's continued demands for pitches that turn from day one.

Dhoni and the 83-year-old Mukherjee haven't had the most cordial working relationship either. Despite India's completion of a 5-0 whitewash of England in 2011-12 with a win in the last ODI in Kolkata, Dhoni called the Eden Gardens pitch an "ugly wicket". Mukherjee, never one to hold back, responded by saying, "Pitches don't score runs, batsmen do." It was also reported that Mukherjee had made disparaging comments about Dhoni's demands for specific pitches.

Board officials, however, sought to dowse speculation. "Prabir Mukherjee is one of the most senior curators in India and Bhowmick, being a member of the BCCI ground and pitches committee from the East Zone, has been asked to assist him," Biswarup Dey, the treasurer of Cricket Association of Bengal, told ESPNcricinfo.

Mukherjee himself was not flustered by Bhowmick's visit. "It's not that I've been removed or sidelined. We will work together to prepare the wicket," he told PTI. "I'm more than happy to assist him. He has been asked by the board to help me out. It's not something that is happening for the first time. I don't understand what's the fuss about it."

The BCCI has a policy of asking each of the five members of the ground and pitches committee to oversee the preparation of wickets for international games in their respective zones. While Ramesh Mahamulkar, the Wankhede Stadium curator, prepared the wicket for last week's Test in Mumbai, Sudhir Naik, the West Zone representative in the committee, supervised the preparations ahead of the match. Similarly, Daljit Singh, the head of the ground and pitches committee, visited Kolkata last week to see if everything was in place.

After the Ahmedabad Test against England, which India won by nine wickets on a slow pitch, Dhoni had stated his preference for surfaces that turned and bounced right from the start, so that "the toss was taken out of the equation". The pitch at Wankhede Stadium met his demands, but England levelled the series with a ten-wicket win.

The BCCI, during its annual general meeting in September, had ratified a proposal to expand the ground and pitches committee from five members to 12. The seven additional members were supposed to travel to other centres and help prepare pitches for important games, if required, and also look after the tracks for domestic games that clash with international matches in India.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Naveed on November 30, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    Honestly it all boils down to the rampant talk about revenge among the media and the Indian players before the series took off. Just remember Kohli's attitude at the start of the series: If India want to ever be able to become the number 1 test playing nation (if that is even their goal) they have to get over all the pettiness. They must stop blaming English pitches about their woes overseas. They have to admit to the fact that they are still not up to that mark. Harsha is right, it is the players that win the matches.

  • JJ on November 30, 2012, 11:57 GMT

    Judging the previous 2 tests, I think the 3rd test match should be adjusted to Thursday - Monday with the 3rd and 4th day on Sarturday with possible full-day watch and result on Sunday, generating most stadium attendance and tv viewers as both days are weekends. Any particular reason(s) why 2nd test started on Friday and 3nd test starts on Wednesday? ...

  • Santosh on November 30, 2012, 11:28 GMT

    Whenever Indian Captains have complained about the pitches they have screwed the whole series be it Ganguly in Nagpur'04, in NZL'03 or Dhoni in England. Any surface will give equal opportunity to both the teams and when Captains continue to complain it is really surprising.This Indian team does not have to prove anyone, all they need is apply themselves in the middle and forget about IPL and T20 cricket. Test cricket needs high skill and all round game to survive. In the recent series world over the players who play very less T20 or only play Test cricket have made huge runs. Cook, Clarke, Chanders, Pujara etc. People say good things about IPL but it is hampering Test cricket big time. Atleast have a limit of 8 games per Indian player and KO matches. Without VVS and Rahul Team India looked like a 2nd division Ranji team. All I can say is forget the pitch demon and start apply yourselves on the pitch. If someone has to complain abt the pitch it is the visiting team and not the hosts.

  • JJ on November 30, 2012, 11:04 GMT

    Plain and simple, the committees are sent to Kolkata to make sure that not in any way, the pitch is 'accidentally' prepared by the curator(s) in favour of the visitors. But it is normal that home teams have the 'home ground advantages', if grounds are prepared within the law of the game, why not? I don't think any of the Indian officials and players should be over-hyper, over-do the 'pitch' thing, as Mr. Mukherjee put it, "Pitches don't score runs, batsmen do" add further, perhaps pitches don't take wickets, bowlers do!

  • VINODK on November 30, 2012, 9:26 GMT

    It's ridiculous that the BCCI is directly overseeing pitch preparation. What next?? As for Dhoni he should be wishing for a flat pitch coz that's the only way he'll score runs. He has neither the technique nor skill to bat on turners or fast pitches against good bowlers- a classical flat pitch bully.

  • V.L on November 29, 2012, 20:26 GMT

    @Biggus So you are saying, there were no fast bouncy wickets in Aus when India toured Aus and that the fast bowlers were not peppering their helmets with short-balls? The truth is these fast track bullies get humiliated and paraded by the Indians whenever they tour here, and some like yourself find it hard to digest nothing more. England are the first team who toured here and have shown some fight, and thats how it should be. If you want to whine tour only the countries which suit you and score between 4 or 40 double hundreds for all I care! And seriously dont you think the ECB or ACB or any other country for that matter oversees the pitches prepared for international games? Did UAE prepare wickets keeping Finn, Broad , Anderson in mind? Get a life people!

  • Jon on November 29, 2012, 16:46 GMT

    India are well within their rights to ask for turning tracks but why can't they do it privatley and with a touch of subtleness. I think over emphasizing what is wrong with the tracks is really looking for excuses. Inida do have enough to beat us without doctoring the tracks to such an extent. If Dhoni orders a low and slow track he really is anti-cricket. The most boring cricket is played on such tracks. Yes India lost a game at home, it happens, but they should back themselves to come back on the wicket that the curator sees fit to provide. Please give a track with a little bounce in it. It makes for much better viewing

  • Dummy4 on November 29, 2012, 15:21 GMT

    I think Dhoni has to understand that it has more to do with India's batting ability as well! Looking at the current team, apart from Cheteshwar Pujara, I don't think any of these players (Sehwag, Gambhir, Tendulkar, Dhoni, Yuvraj, Kohli) have the form to make a century. If your lead spinner (ashwin) is scoring more than you as a top order batsman in an innings, then you are not fit to be a batsman in the Test team. I like England's rotational policy. I think they should give these players a break and bring in Dhawan, Rahane, Badrinath, Mukund, Saha etc. They could even try and bring in Rahul Sharma (can bowl better with the red ball) and Piyush Chawla instead of the useless off spinners (Ashwin & Bhajji).

  • Ashok on November 29, 2012, 14:34 GMT

    BCCI must focus more on development & selection of right players to represent India rather than on the pitches. A poor batting side can make any pitch look like a minefield, as India did in the Mumbai test. Panesar & Swann bowled well but made to look like the greatest spin twin in the Cricket today!. Asking for a spinning bouncy wkt. from Day 1 was Dhoni's call. He got his wish but his team failed collectively in both batting & bowling. Pujara & Ashwin in the first & Gambhir in the second were the only 3 responsible batsmen. What will the Kolkatta pitch be like is any one's guess. But putting the same team, which was a disaster in the last match, on the field again is height of incompetence on part of the Selectors. Produce a similar "turner" as @ Mumbai in Kolkatta & the same guys will fall like 9 pins again! Einstien's definition of "Insanity" is being challenged again. Hopefully Kolkatta Pitch is a flat batting paradise so that the hapless Indian team can escape another trouncing!

  • Dummy4 on November 29, 2012, 13:06 GMT

    Certainly the English team is not as depleted a side as the kiwis or the windies. Dhoni has a point in asking the curators to prepare a good turning track (Evry captain has the right to do so). But by over emphasizing on it he is only showing his inability to captain a test team (which I always kept saying that he is not suited for test captaincy). He can captain a session of a test match but not for the entire 5 grueling days. I guess he should be sacked of his job of captaining a test team at the earliest and retain him the captain of ODI and T20.

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