India news December 6, 2015

Debate on quality of pitches overhyped - Thakur

ESPNcricinfo staff

Anurag Thakur said that Shashank Manohar's views on the ICC's restructuring were made in a personal capacity © AFP

BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur has taken exception to the ICC's assessment of the Nagpur pitch for the third Test between India and South Africa as "poor" and said the debate over the quality of pitches in the ongoing Test series between India and South Africa is "overhyped". He has also expressed reservations over the views of Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president and ICC chairman, that India cannot dominate the world body by virtue of its financial clout.

Speaking at the Indian Express Idea Exchange earlier in the week, Thakur reiterated the observations of India team director Ravi Shastri and Test captain Virat Kohli that there were no problems with the pitches produced for the Tests against South Africa.

"I think the debate on the quality of pitches is overhyped. When a match gets over in two days - maybe in some other part of the world, like Australia in three days - nobody raises that question," Thakur said. "But when we see a lot of drawn matches, like in the last few years, we say nobody will come and watch Test cricket.

"I have a question to ask about the Nagpur match. Ask any ex-cricketer, how many players from the two teams played a bad shot? Was there uneven bounce? No. Was there more turn than expected? Yes, maybe.

"What is the criterion for a good pitch and bad pitch? Was the bounce uneven, were there injuries? The ICC has sent us a letter and we will soon reply to that. But I think there is nothing wrong if a Test match finishes on the fourth day or the third day. You should also look at the batting standards. Remember how [Rahul] Dravid, [VVS] Laxman played on these kinds of tracks?"

Thakur maintained there was nothing wrong in exploiting home advantage and said the preparation of turning tracks wasn't a worrying trend.

"Nobody questioned the T20 and the ODI games. What about the pitches when South Africa won?" Thakur asked. "But when India won two Test matches, you start raising questions.

"In many parts of the world such as Australia and South Africa, you will see much more bounce. In England, you will see more seam and swing. So how do you compare that? In India and Pakistan, you may see more turning tracks. That is the nature of our pitches, which we call home advantage."

Thakur also clarified that Manohar's views on the ICC's restructuring were personal. Manohar recently said the revamp was tantamount to bullying, and that he didn't agree with the revenue-sharing formula that guaranteed India a significant chunk of the revenue. While his thoughts were endorsed by a section of the board's members, there has also been considerable resistance. Thakur said there was nothing wrong in India receiving a larger slice of the financial pie.

"The [BCCI] president said this in his personal capacity. He made it very clear that it was his personal opinion," he said. "The Indian subcontinent contributes close to 70% of the ICC's revenues. To take 21% of that is not much. That was the position with Australia and England earlier, and no one objected to it then. If this happens to India today, we shouldn't object to it.

"You have to understand that India plays a very, very important role in world cricket. It's only India which has a stadium in virtually every state. The money we have been generating in the last so many years has been spent on the ground."

Thakur also said the larger interest of BCCI's units would have to be looked into before arriving at a decision on Manohar's proposals, which have already received support from boards like Cricket South Africa and Sri Lanka Cricket. The BCCI, however, will be keen to not ruffle the feathers of its own units. Senior administrator and Saurashtra Cricket Association president Niranjan Shah, who is known to be close to Manohar, had advocated a "middle path", which would strike a balance between extending a helping hand to financially weaker boards and securing the monetary rewards the BCCI deserved.

"We have to look at the overall picture and individual opinions could be different," Thakur said. "I may disagree, but the final call has to be taken by the BCCI because it is not only in the interest of one association, it is in the interest of 30 units of the BCCI."