India news December 8, 2015

BCCI vehement in its support of Nagpur pitch

The Nagpur pitch was reported as 'poor' by Jeff Crowe, the match referee, in his assessment to the ICC © Associated Press

The BCCI's objection to the ICC's assessment of the Nagpur pitch is that there are "inconsistencies" in the match referee's report, and the board unanimously stands behind the surface.

According to a top BCCI official, the assessment that the Nagpur pitch was "poor" was not right, and that the BCCI was going to contest it strongly. "The report says the ball 'spun' on day one," he said on the sidelines of the IPL Governing Council meeting in Delhi. "It says 'excessive turn' only for day three." However, it is worth noting that the ICC's guidelines on what qualifies as a poor pitch is "excessive assistance to spin bowlers, especially early in the match", and not just early in the match.

The officials present at the meeting were vehement in their support of the pitch, whose excessive turn, variable bounce and pace had come in for criticism from various quarters. "Excessive turn is subjective," the official said. "It depends on how the bowler uses it. I don't think there was anything wrong with the surface."

The ICC informed the BCCI on December 1 that Jeff Crowe, the match referee, in consultation with the umpires, had rated the pitch poor. The BCCI had 14 days to respond after which Geoff Allardice, ICC"s general manager of cricket, and Ranjan Madugalle, its chief match referee, will consider all evidence, including video footage of the match, before deciding if the pitch was indeed poor.

If found to be poor, the penalties range from a warning and/or a fine of $15,000 with a directive to institute corrective measures.

Another official said the worst-case scenario will be a warning from the ICC, but insisted there was nothing wrong with the pitch. "Early turn is a new concept to them [the batsmen]," he said. "Maybe they are not used to it, but it would have been a problem only if the pitch had been dangerous."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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