West Indies in India 2013-14 November 4, 2013

'Even-bouncing wicket' at Eden Gardens

Arya Yuyutsu

Amid reports that Eden Gardens is likely to roll out a low and slow pitch for the first Test against West Indies starting on Wednesday, chief groundsman Prabir Mukherjee has said stroke-making won't be too difficult.

"It will be a good, firm, even-bouncing wicket, so that the [batsmen] will be able to play their shots," Mukherjee told ESPNcricinfo.

Eden Gardens has had a lot of rain in the lead-up to the Test. In fact, there was no play possible in a Ranji Trophy game last week, between Bengal and Baroda, despite there being no rain on the days of the match. It is believed the organisers didn't want to risk playing on a damp pitch considering the Test was so close, and it is the moisture underneath the surface that is expected to slow down the surface. However, Mukherjee said batsmen need not worry.

"There is no such thing as a bowler's wicket in cricket," he said. "That is an under-prepared wicket. Cricket is a game of batsmanship. When a batsman makes a hundred he gets more applause than when a bowler gets a five-for. That's the difference.

There were reports as soon as Eden Gardens was announced as the venue for the Test - Sachin Tendulkar's 199th - that the stadium would dish out a flat surface so that Tendulkar enjoyed his farewell. Mukherjee sought to rubbish those claims.

"I had no pressure to prepare a wicket tailor-made for Sachin," he said. "And why should I? He's played 198 Test matches. For Sachin, to make it easier to bat is a foolish approach. There's a reason why he's played so many Test matches. And I'll just pray to God that he shows that again, by making another hundred in his 199th Test. It's just a pleasure for us to watch him play here for one last time."