India v England, 3rd Test, Kolkata

BCCI to aid in preparing Eden Gardens pitch

Amol Karhadkar

November 28, 2012

Comments: 49 | Text size: A | A

Monty Panesar gets congratulations after removing Virender Sehwag, India v England, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 2nd day, November 25, 2012
India's decision of opting for a rank turner backfired in the second Test in Mumbai © BCCI
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Series/Tournaments: England tour of India
Teams: India

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

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Posted by nos4a2_n 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: http://www.espncricinfo.com/india-v-england-2012/content/story/588475.html 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.

Posted by CricShanghai 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? ...

Posted by HyderabadiFlick 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.

Posted by CricShanghai 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"..to add further, perhaps pitches don't take wickets, bowlers do!

Posted by VivtheGreatest 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.

Posted by maddy20 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!

Posted by jb633 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

Posted by   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).

Posted by Nampally 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!

Posted by   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.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 12:09 GMT)

Irrespective of what happens at Kolkata, selectors should call back VVS Laxman and ask him to lead team India in tests during this season. VVS Laxman deserves to add a feather in his cap as captain. He is also in good form having hit a century recently in a Ranji match, and was ready to play a full season of cricket before retirement! Be fair with VVS Laxman and give him what he deserves and for team India. Remember in recent history in the sub-continent it was VVS Laxman who won the matches or saved matches for India. It is not unusual to call back players. Pataudi was chosen in the last minute to play against England at Chennai in 1972 after he showed he was in good touch with a century in a first-class match.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 11:14 GMT)

"Finn IMO is going to become world class ..He is only 21 and he is a man for all seasons I believe"

Wrong. Finn was 21 a couple of years ago, when he broke into the England side. He's now 23, born 4/4/89.

Posted by Ganapati9 on (November 29, 2012, 10:16 GMT)

Considering that politicians like Rajiv Shukla are at the helm of affairs in the BCCI it would be naive to believe Probir Mukherjee is not being sidelined.How low can one stoop just to win a game.Indian cricket is not respected world over.Only the BCCI's financial clout is feared.By resorting to doctoring of pitches India would further fall in the esteem of cricket fans and serious followers of the game.

Posted by Boston_Legal on (November 29, 2012, 9:59 GMT)

What????? BCCI ground and pitches committee???? what next? an ICC pitch committee? Will they ever let the curator do his job properly?

Posted by g.narsimha on (November 29, 2012, 9:57 GMT)

NAEAM-578-I want to just draw u r attention to the article by SWAAN on this very WEB just before the start of first test in which he catogarically classified those wichets ai UAE are rank turners compared to low,slow flat IND wickets IND bashers wont miss an opportunity in demeaning our team, if ours is that a worse attack among the test playing nations than how could we achieved no-i in tests & wc,other major wins outside ASIA which u r team cant think even in dreams ,now we are in trasation period for the last few tours we were pathetic but what is u r score line , show us , with so called great bowling what wonders U R TEAM DONE outside cant win in SL, WI, till date no series win there 3-0,5-0 in AUS, see we are still ranked highly in ODIS, T-20 , JUST 3 POINTS SEPERATES US IN TESTS which will be nullified at the end of this series but what about u r team can u emagine with this pathetic batting & bowling as u r great bowler can only perfom on turners at UAE WHAT AWIATS IN SA

Posted by gnanzcupid on (November 29, 2012, 9:23 GMT)

For all those who call for sachin's retirement, I have a question for you..Can u replace Sachin in Team India? Do you have an equivalent or atleast half the equivalent batsman to fill in his shoes??

Posted by tmoulik on (November 29, 2012, 9:11 GMT)

I believe that visit of BCCI's Ashis Bhowmik is just a routine supervision. It has nothing to do with pitch doctoring. Mr. Prabir Mukherjee is a very experienced and renowned curator and a very upright personality. He is well aware of the ICC pitch standards and will not bow down to any unjustified demand or request. We can expect a sporting pitch at Eden. Eden is always the place for miracles.

Posted by Biggus on (November 29, 2012, 9:02 GMT)

@gnanzcupid-Other countries do not actually try to make full use of home conditions. If they did, then when India toured Australia you would have been presented with real green-tops, not the imaginary ones your players claimed to have played on to deflect the wrath of their fans. Indian pitches are a joke and always have been, just like Indian umpires.

Posted by Naeem578 on (November 29, 2012, 7:48 GMT)

Eng was thrashed 3-0 in UAE where pitches were very slow turners and batting friendly not rank turners, but it was the quality of Ajmal and Rehman which was too good 4 eng. So pitches don't matter as much as they are focused right now in india, its all about quality of attack you have. Mind you ind has got the most worse one in test playing nations.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 6:08 GMT)

It is getting more and more embarrassing to be an indian fan..Really are the laughing stock of cricket..we get the pitch to suited to our conditions and get hammered..Now the BCCI wants to get involved in pitch preparation.

Whatever happens , I hope Kolkata pitch would be a sporting wicket / slightly in favour of cricket..for the sake of good competitive test cricket..

On a seperate note Broad is the cricketing equivalent of a "Sunday league " football player..Finn IMO is going to become world class ..He is only 21 and he is a man for all seasons I believe ..You can be succesful in subcontinental wickets as a paceman..You have to adjust your line and length to be much fuller and also learn the art of reverse swing..easier said than done but the best fast bowlers in the world have been able to do it

Posted by gnanzcupid on (November 29, 2012, 6:03 GMT)

I humbly feel it would be sensible if the english fans mind their own work with regards to pitches in india. It is the indian soil and they will know what type of pitches to have and what not to have. Everyone wants to make the maximum use of their home advantage. No country is exception to this. England too. So be sensible

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (November 29, 2012, 4:57 GMT)

Indian team is chasing a record. They may be one of first teams to lose nine of their 10 test matches. If ICC was a fair and correct governenace body, India's test status will be reviewed.

Posted by crindex on (November 29, 2012, 4:45 GMT)

The pitches in sub continent (including the one in Middle East) do not follow international standards. When will ICC come up with a uniform standard for pitch curators and periodic inspection of international pitches? Pitch curators must also be part of ICC just like umpires . That will even the field.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 4:38 GMT)

Hmm! BCCI directly involved in pitch preparation! Just goes to show that you can put nothing past these guys. I suspect that they are preparing a flat pitch to facilitate a Sachin century after which the retirement announcement will come! Undoubtedly, he is not retiring in a blaze of glory (anymore) but at least this will be one last hurrah??!

Posted by gnanzcupid on (November 29, 2012, 4:23 GMT)

Subcontinent pitches are the best in the world. It help the batsmen who bat sensibily, it assists the technically sound seamers at some patches and it helps the spin bowlers towards the end. What a perfect mix. Im loving it

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 4:15 GMT)

so when india toured england last year, did strauss demand like this? Fact is india was completely outplayed in last test and now dhoni wants to show the fans that it was an one hit wonder from the english.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 4:09 GMT)

England must prepare turning pitches which will not seam at all. Not a bad expectation !!!!

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 3:21 GMT)

Dhoni would have been the first ever captain,asking for turning wickets; I'd never rated him as a good test player. He cann't pass the ultimate test of cricket skills-test matches,as a player;forhet abut him conquering as a captain. Good luck,Team India!

Posted by freo75 on (November 29, 2012, 2:33 GMT)

One defeat and India are imploding...

Posted by Htc-Android on (November 29, 2012, 2:20 GMT)

dhoni needs to pray that swan and panesar dont play in the rest of the series.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (November 29, 2012, 1:40 GMT)

I guess the fuss is that, to the outsider, it sounds like the BCCI is sending someone in to make sure that the curator doctors the pitch to their satisfaction to ensure the best possible chance of India winning the game. If, as appears to be the case, this is standard practice and has been going on for some time then such fears are unfounded. I think that what it comes down to is that Dhoni asked for the type of pitch that he thought India would have the best chance on but it backfired because England improved enough with the bat to cope with the India spinners while India underperformed with the bat. The spin and bounce was exploited far better by the England spinners that Dhoni expected and Pujara wasn't enough to Cook and KP. Will Dhoni want the same type of wicket again, or will he want something more like the one that India won on in Ahmedabad? The Mumbai pitch was not unplayable even at the end as, without pressure, Cook and Compton had little trouble scoring the winning runs.

Posted by challagalla on (November 29, 2012, 1:16 GMT)

All this fretting over a simple pitch. Accept whats given and play to your best ability. I have never heard a captain so vocally demand a pitch that spins from the first ball so " the toss is taken out of the equation " . Well, Messrs Cook, KP, Monty & Swan gave us a lesson on taking the toss out of the equation. I am sure the groundsmen all over the world know what is best for the home team. Lets stop whining and leave it to the groundsmen to do their job and follow the example of the above mentioned illustrious firm.

Posted by here2rock on (November 28, 2012, 23:38 GMT)

So many members in the committee and to no avail. Pitches do not win matches but players do. In England Indian batsmen were scared of Pace now they are scared of Swan and Monty. Let's just face it that this Indian Cricket is one of the worst even with Tendulkar in the twilight of his career.

Posted by Naresh28 on (November 28, 2012, 23:30 GMT)

Is Dhoni bored with 5 day games? Maybe he is not cut out for TEST cricket. Please make way for a new captain then. just saying this cause he insisted on games turning from DAY1. Means he wants short games.

Posted by Chris_P on (November 28, 2012, 22:21 GMT)

I feel sorry for Indian pace bowlers when they get treated this way. How are these guys expected to to perform overseas when they aren't even given any incentive to bowl at all? Of course you play to your strengths, but really, how do you get high quality pace bowlers with these type of efforts? ZK is well into his 30's, Umesh impressed me greatly last year, but he is not being handled well, & what else is there as far as top shelf pace bowlers?

Posted by SanjivAwesome on (November 28, 2012, 21:49 GMT)

You come to India, you should expect to get bullied! This favour is returned when our team tours overseas and is presented with alien pitches and conditions. It is called competition.

Posted by JustIPL on (November 28, 2012, 21:46 GMT)

I will suggest selecting the team who can win just the pitch will not make much of a difference. India had lost their way middle of fist test but got advantaged by winning the toss and english lack of experience against Ashwin/Ojha. Later on, in second test they were easily picked despite three frontline spinners. English team is in full swing and have many options while India is struggling to find players, lets see what happens in the next two tests.

Posted by JustIPL on (November 28, 2012, 21:32 GMT)

We cannot engineer a win by just doctoring the pitches it needs good skills in the ground to do that. It is the moral of Indian debacle in the first two tests.

Posted by JustIPL on (November 28, 2012, 21:30 GMT)

At the end of the day only the game should win regardless of who wins or loses. Losing matches is no big deal but losing respect is. When Dhoni abandoned chase agaiinst west indies in 2011 nobody liked despite the fact that India saved the match. Same applies by concentrating on type of tracks that will suit Indian players will not help regain respect as it will be short lived. The lesson is learned in th 2nd test where despite winning in Ahmedabad english team got the better for India. Indian supporters want to see their team winning out there in the middle using their shear talent and not by doctoring pitches, denying relevant practice to tourists, etc. Home team should be able to sieze the home advantage otherwise ZIM. BD, NZ, WI would always win in their backyard. We all, whether supporters or critics of Indian team want to see them fighting lilke Pujara & Ojha as we love cricket with positive attitude. So, I will request avoiding playing with pitches rather should play on them.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2012, 21:14 GMT)

The current Indian players painted themselves into a corner by blaming their poor performances on overseas seaming wickets. They've told everyone else that so many times they are starting to believe it themselves, hence this over focus on getting the perfect home track. There is a real need for some genuine introspection in the Indian squad instead of externalising the causes of the malaise.

Posted by umbuly on (November 28, 2012, 21:10 GMT)

Shameless cricket by India. Absolutely no focus whatsoever on what went wrong in Mumbai. They are focusing on the pitch. We don't see anybody coming out and talking about the batting failure and what captain/coach are doing to rectify it. Frustrating to the fans.

Posted by cricmatters on (November 28, 2012, 20:55 GMT)

I think too much hype is going on about the pitch preparation. Every team when playing at home would like to play to their strengths. This is nothing new and will continue in future too. Some times the Vising teams make better use of the playing conditions and surprise the hosts like India did in the seaming wicket of Durban and the fast bouncy WACA wicket at Perth. England turned the tables on India by playing better on the spinning track in Mumbai. A good team should have the right balance of players to counter any playing conditions. Just as India's win abroad can be attributed to good swing bowling by Indian bowlers, England this time has genuine spinners who can turn the ball. It is going to be a good even contest no matter what kind of pitches are prepared. This is how Test cricket ought to be with two balanced sides playing with no apparent weakness for either the spin or swing bowling.

Posted by jb633 on (November 28, 2012, 19:18 GMT)

The focus on pitches in the last 12 months has been ridiculous. I mean I don't remember India focusing on pitches so much during the 00's when they had a top draw side. Also when they played away from home I do not remember complaints about Headingley, Joburg etc, the players just got on with it. IMO players should be able to adapt to conditions anywhere and the best side should win in most conditions. With India trying to doctor pitches to stack the odds so much in their favour they either a) do not back themselves to win with pitches that will aid them slightly b) have no desire to win away series so long as they win at home or c) don't care if the test side loses so long as the IPL remains profitable. I mean India are whinging about getting green tops in the 2011 England series but this is rubbish. In 2002 there were green tops are India played very well on them. Producing these square turners will never allow India to develop any seamers. It used to be better than this I am sure

Posted by   on (November 28, 2012, 18:57 GMT)

Forget Dhoni, Sachin and Pitches that are hogging the limelight these days. No on is talking about the coach - Fletcher who is of no good to Indian Team. The moment he took over, the team went on a slide. India fared much better under Kirsten and Wright when India toured SA and AUS on their bouncy wickets.India won the tri-series in AUS as well as world cup in contrasting pitches. Kirsten, on the other hand, is doing a good job for SA.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2012, 18:26 GMT)

Indians are nothing but FLAT TRACK BULLIES !

Posted by Me_A_Gemini on (November 28, 2012, 17:39 GMT)

Correct and straight.... "Pitches don't score runs, batsmen do"..... Mr. MS Dhoni

Posted by JustIPL on (November 28, 2012, 16:39 GMT)

In the past it was 11 players+two home umpires and now no more Indian umpires. Now it is 11 players+4curators and may be there will be no indian curators soon.

Posted by ElPhenomeno on (November 28, 2012, 16:34 GMT)

How about just playing some good competitive cricket? Turn and bounce bounced India out of the game in Mumbai. Too much talk and focus on pitches and pitch preparation. How about preparing for the game?

Dhoni and co. are getting a bit carried away. They thought they could roll all over the English but it doesn't seem that easy now, does it.

Posted by plkn on (November 28, 2012, 16:27 GMT)

The ball once leaves the fingers do not see if it was delivered by English or Indian players. Does Dhoni and BCCI understand this?

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