India v Sri Lanka, 5th ODI, Delhi December 28, 2009

ICC November inspection slammed pitch


Among the several alerts, official and otherwise, raised about the condition of the Kotla pitch is one from the very highest level: An ICC team inspecting the stadium in connection with the 2011 World Cup passed a scathing indictment of the pitch and said "a considerable improvement of the pitch block" would be required to "make the pitch more acceptable" for Sunday's game.

The chief executive of the ICC Haroon Lorgat, speaking in New Delhi on Monday, did not comment on whether this report would have any bearing on the investigation of Sunday's fiasco but said it would be taken into consideration.

"There is an ODI at this venue on 27th December 2009 and considerable improvement of the pitch block will be required by then to make the pitch provided more acceptable" said the report, a copy of which is with Cricinfo. The inspection was carried out on November 4, three days after third ODI of the India-Australia series.

That game, and earlier games during the Champions League Twenty20 where batsmen struggled to counter the low and slow nature of the various pitches on the square, was noted in the November report. "During the Champions League and the India vs Australia ODI series, it was well documented that the performance and condition of the pitches at the stadium were a cause of concern for the players," the report said.

The problem with the Kotla pitch - which has already been relaid four times in the last five years under four different curators - stems from the decision, taken immediately after the second IPL was shifted to South Africa, to relay the entire square. During the Champions League Daljit Singh, till Sunday the head of the BCCI's grounds and wickets committee, said it would take about a year for the re-laid pitches to get seasoned. That point of view seems to have been overlooked with the Indian board deciding to stage at Kotla first the Australia ODI and, within two months, the game against Sri Lanka.

The ICC's inspectors, though, were never in doubt about the quality of the surface and their report offered some prescriptions for the longer term. "The pitch block was reconstructed recently and it is clear to see that there are some important issues with the present condition of the pitch surface that it is essential to address prior to CWC 2011."

As a remedial measure it suggested that the surface level across the entire square needed to be "readjusted in several areas" to help in growing the grass. The DDCA ground authorities, working with Daljit, had been experimenting with the grass, which resulted in the tufts of green spread across the pitch on which Sri Lanka batted.

There has been much talk of differences between local and centralized pitch officials and this was clear to the ICC inspection team. "It was apparent when speaking with the local officials that they are reluctant to openly discuss the problems they are having with the pitch and that they are to some extent in variance with the BCCI Pitch Consultant (Daljit Singh) regarding how they are to move forward to resolve the problems with this surface."

According to the ICC team the DDCA were adamant on replanting the pitches with local grass, which they felt would take care of the problem. But that idea was fraught with dangers. "To simply replant without this major renovation of the surface would be a major miscalculation, and would result in inadequate pitches at a later date," the report said.

"The dead and the decaying grass and roots left in the soil profile will break down into organic matter and will contribute to the dilution of the clay content of the soil and contribute to the pitches produced in the future being slow in pace, spongy in texture, and would tend to generate slow and inconsistent bounce from the pitches in the future."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hafsa on January 1, 2010, 5:52 GMT

    Chetan Chauhan has issues!! It comes down to that ! A decent thing to do would have just been to admit their mistake and get on with it! I wonder what he would have said had India batted first and come to the same conclusion -- after their players were subject to that sorta pitch! When the great Sunil Gav. himself declared an unsatisfactory pitch, Chetan Chauhan ought to know better than to flare biased remarks at the Lankans... No spirit of sportsmanship from him! Not even an atom of it!

  • Anirban on December 30, 2009, 14:04 GMT

    The overall series against sri lanka has been very boring keeping in mind where only batsman has flourished throughout the series...thanks to the batsman friendly slow pitches which made it possible...As far as poor pitches goes well BCCI is never worried about it as long as it gets all the cash to sail its ship on it

  • Murtaza on December 30, 2009, 9:38 GMT

    This is quite unfortunate, Chetan Chauhan has openly questioned the integrity of the SriLankan team and its' captain. I sincerely hope there is a reaction to this by the ICC.

  • Ravish on December 29, 2009, 7:33 GMT

    Geez, people here don't need much fuel for a fight... A one day was abandoned. So who cares? As for Delhi losing international games for 12-18 months, who cares? Delhi might not be in line to host another game for one year anyway. They can host IPL games in the mean time. They better improve the pitch before next IPL or else some Delhi players might be injured. Did anyone notice that another meaningless tri-nation tournament is coming up less than a week? That too involving India and SL, the same teams that just finished their bilaterals.

  • Nanda on December 29, 2009, 7:16 GMT

    I wonder if BCCI and/or ICC officials are reading the comments from this site. If not, I would strongly urge them to read these. In any business, customer/consumer is the boss and they need to be heard and listened to. If we all strongly feel that BCCI/ICC need to be setting the pitch-standards to facilitate a competitive and safe match, they ought to do that. Alas, what good is a match without any spectators and what good is a team without its fans/followers. Bureaucracy needs to give way to consumers needs!

  • vivek on December 29, 2009, 7:15 GMT

    By the way, if Chetan has seen worse pitches then so has Sunny who was his more accomplished opening batting partner. And Sunny objected to the pitch at the toss and before the match was suspended. End of story.

  • William on December 29, 2009, 6:56 GMT

    The saddest thing about all this is that pitch was supposed to host a World cup game, now it seems unlikey.

  • Randika on December 29, 2009, 6:40 GMT

    Such a shame this superbly contested had to finish off with an anti-climax controversy. The pitch was unsuitable for international cricket as been assessed by many authorities and experts before and during the game, end of story! Lets move on and preserve the goodwill between the teams and fans of the two sides! India came up worthy victors in the series and SL though down showed commendable effort and skill that many other sides in the world wouldn't have afforded in India! cheers!

  • Roshen on December 29, 2009, 6:13 GMT

    Chetan Chauhan says he had played in worse pitches, i wonder what he means by worse, maybe India being bowled out for below 100? eh?? Any idiotic Indian fan saying SL chickened out should be provided with an oppurtunity to see India struggling on this pitch, or maybe they should be put into the middle with a bat, provided they know which end to hold it from atleast. And please don't compare Viv Richards and other greats of old age with contemporary legends. If anyone needs convincing, consider our daily lives and the lives that our ancestors led. My great grandfather had once walked 50 miles in the space of a day(with plenty of time to spare as well). It wasn't anything amazing, atleast at those times. But just think a bit, how many of us would be willing or even so manage to walk 10 miles by foot if required, when we have been brought up in a world where everything is simplified and everyone is one click away from anything!

  • Noman on December 29, 2009, 5:46 GMT

    I think many Indians on this blog are going overboard to defend an unacceptable situation (though I must mention that there are many wise heads as well). First I must mention that I'm sick and tired of teams scoring 300+ runs EASILY in ODIs. I want a balacned battle between bat and ball and don't want bowlers to turn into bowling machines (I grew up in the 90s, fed on 2 Ws, Walsh and Ambrose etc. so I actually root for bowlers more). So you guys who're defending that pitch, there is nothing wrong in a seaming/bouncy track but there were 2 things which made the Delhi wicket too dangerous to play: 1) The ball was shooting off and keeping low from virtually the same spot ( It wasn't a combination of extra bounce and normal bouce or low bounce and normal bounce, which would have been acceptable).

    2) And much more importantly, the fact which many have ignored, it was shooting from the good length, which makes it very dangerous; protection or no protection. Cheers!

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