India v West Indies, 2nd Test, Mumbai November 11, 2013

Mumbai curator won't be swayed by Tendulkar emotion

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Sudhir Naik, the curator at the Wankhede stadium, wants Sachin Tendulkar to score a century in his 200th and final Test, which begins in Mumbai on November 14, but made it clear the batsman would not get any favours as far as the pitch was concerned.

"I will be happy if he gets a hundred because I want that," Naik told ESPNcricinfo as he was busy giving the final touches to the ground. "I also want the century because he is our boy, Bombay boy. He has done so well all his career, so let people remember him forever ki isne last match main bhi sau banaya (because he made a century in his last match).

"He is good enough to do it himself. He does not need my help. This wicket is good enough for batting so that might automatically help him," Naik said. "It will be an emotional one, definitely, because I have seen him right from his first day in first-class cricket till the day he leaves the game. So not seeing him again will be difficult. But we have rules and norms to follow so my emotions will not get in the way of my work."

According to Naik, neither has anyone from the BCCI issued a directive to make a particular kind of surface, nor will he be under duress himself. "I will be under no pressure for any match because my approach is simple," he said. "I have to prepare something which is good for cricket."

Naik is presently in his second stint as curator for the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), where he has served in other roles too. His first term began in 1986 but he left disappointed and angry after the 1996 World Cup, having received no acknowledgement from the MCA managing committee for the hard work he had put into relaying the Wankhede pitch and the outfield, in addition to refurbishing the entire ground as well as raising the floodlights.

However, after the infamous Test between India and Australia in 2004 ended in three days despite most of the first being washed out, the MCA asked Naik to come back. The first match of his second stint was the India-England Test in 2006, when the visitors won on the final day. Naik is proud that his pitches have lasted long and helped both batsmen and bowlers.

"My approach is I always prepare a sporting wicket," he said. "If I am correct, every Test match I have been the curator of has lasted till the fifth day, except the four-day Test against England in December 2012."

Although he has no count of the number of Tests for which he has been head groundsman, Naik is aware that Tendulkar has scored only one century at the Wankhede - against Sri Lanka in 1997. Naik was not the curator at the time. In 10 Tests at this venue, Tendulkar has scored 847 runs at an average of 47.05, and though he has only one hundred, he has made two scores in the 90s.

It is understood the Wankhede pitch will stay firmer than the abrasive surface at Eden Gardens, which Darren Sammy said resembled a fourth-day pitch on the eve of the Test. There was uneven bounce throughout the Kolkata Test and the ball also deviated sharply off the surface. The groundsman had not had enough time to bind the wicket properly because of unseasonal rains in the lead-up to the match.

The Wankhede wicket, however, is expected to offer good bounce to the bowlers as well stay firm and only wear off gradually. Naik is confident it will last the whole five days. He knows that Tendulkar will come and have a quiet word with him about the pitch, as he always does. He complimented Naik and his team after the 2011 World Cup final for preparing a "nice wicket," appropriate for a good ODI contest.

According to Naik, it was harder to prepare the pitch for the World Cup final than it is for Tendulkar's farewell Test. "It was a fresh wicket and people were worried about whether there will be bounce and how it will behave. This match, not many would be bothered, because the focus and attention will be on Sachin."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • royals1986 on November 13, 2013, 13:56 GMT

    @ sachin_vvsfan . For your information dravid and ganguly were making a start in to the one day cricket , unlike sachin who took almost 5 yrs to score his 1st odi century 110 v/s Australia (9 Sep 1994). Remember 1999 world cup who was the highest run scorer for India it was Dravid (your so called Slow batsman) Remember the Sahara Cup in Canada, who was the highest run scorer it was ganguly. Remember the Independence Cup 1997 where Saeed Anwar scored 194, this guy dravid gave all his soul to score 107 against Pakistan and restore some dignity to the India innings. The fact that Dravid was written off by all as a ODI batsman and still managed to be amongst the top 5 run scorers in ODI is itself a great thing. And all of us here are only talking about Sachin.

  • rosuppiah1981 on November 13, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    If Tendulkar is GOD , why is it that the statistician Ananth Narayan did NOT include even a single test century in his study of the 100 best - VVS Laxman''s 281 was ranked high but Sachin's name was conspicuous in its absence ?

    Dravid , Laxman , Sehwag , Gavaskar and Vishy have played more match winning knocks than GOD - Also when the going was tough , specially in the second innings of a test march , Tendulkar faltered- In this regard , Laxman was supreme

    Let us put things in perspective , Sachin was a very good batsman but he was NOT GOD - Personally , I would rank Lara , Laxman ,Dravid , Gavaskar above Sachin

  • dummy4fb on November 13, 2013, 9:50 GMT

    Sachin is a great Bats man i he world, one more great thing he recorded that , Cricket is a team game and Sachin contributes 90% (in some matches 100%) in most of the matches, India loses because the rest 10 players cant contribute even 50%. As an opener his average run rate is just some, and his runs give bowler and fielders to fight.

  • popcorn on November 13, 2013, 8:01 GMT

    Oh, don't I remember that 2004 Test match! Pup got 6 wickets for 9 on a dust bowl of an unplayable pitch and we lost.To add insult to injury,the so -called curator was a former Indian Test batsman, Polly Umrigar, who thought he had prepared a great wicket! Sic.ICC should have declared that match null and void.

  • Naresh28 on November 13, 2013, 6:54 GMT

    @ramakrishnan - the pitch is the same for 21 other players?

  • giantz2k7 on November 13, 2013, 6:30 GMT

    You cannot satisfy everyone!! If Sachin scores 100 in his last match, everyone, especially Sachin haters, is going to start writing comments that Curator prepared the pitch in a way so that Sachin could score hundred. Sachin deserves due respect like other great batsman game of cricket has produced such as Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Gary Sobers, Brian Lara, Sunil Gavaskar, Ricky Ponting, Don Bradman. Congrats Sachin for your 200th Test & Chanderpaul for 150th Test. Thanks Sachin for giving 24 years of life to this game that you have always cherished and loved.

  • Johnny_129 on November 13, 2013, 2:09 GMT

    It is true that SRT should have retired straight after the WC win. However, players sometimes have a desire and live for the game - many have faulted with the timing of their retirement. One can not pick on SRT for that - He is human after all and has been playing for the country since he was 16 yrs of age! Batsmen go through good and bad phases but longevity needs to be taken into account when judging a player - SRT has scored about a third more runs then is nearest rival! Enough said.

  • dummy4fb on November 13, 2013, 0:44 GMT

    .a batsman should be judjed by how well he plays when the conditions are loaded in fovour of the bowlers. not just by statistics. in this respect no indian batsman come near vishwanath. in terms of sheer class vishy is the best batsman india has produced.

  • buda81 on November 12, 2013, 17:17 GMT

    @ Al_Bundy1: It would be great atleast if you had argued with some facts. As per cricinfo stats the avg for the time-period you mentioned is not 21 but it is 34.6. Name a player in current generation i can tell you the stats where in some phase of his career the player has averaged something similar or less than Sachin for 39 innings. History proves any player who has played for long will face slump in his form at sometime or other. He is considered either best or second best to lara by almost all the bowlers who played the game in his generation. Even Sir Bradman acknowledged that his technique resembles something of his own. I think all these players might not have passed these comments just like that. I am not asking you to become a sachin fan but atleast try to give respect to what he has achieved.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on November 12, 2013, 15:45 GMT

    Curator wouldn't say he prepared a batting paradise. Would he? Just wait and watch.

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