India in West Indies 2006 June 18, 2006

Atkinson promises lively pitch in St Kitts

Cricinfo staff

Andy Atkinson (left) has the knack of producing result-oriented wickets © Pakistan Cricket Board

Andy Atkinson, the ICC's pitch consultant, had positive remarks about the pitch prepared for the third Test between India and West Indies in St Kitts, and suggested that the fast bowlers should benefit from it.

Atkinson was flown in at the request of Ricky Skerrit, former manager of the West Indies team and currently the country's sports minister, following Brian Lara's plea to produce lively tracks for the remaining Tests in the series in order to force a result. The first two Tests, in Antigua and St Lucia, ended in draws.

"Well, this one wouldn't have too much grass but there would be plenty of life otherwise," Atkinson told Press Trust of India. "The trouble is, captains request a lively wicket but the moment the ball starts flying around their ears, they go out and slam curators."

Atkinson, who has overseen the preparation of 18 pitches worldwide, was earlier appointed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in 2001 to prepare result-oriented tracks after a few Tests ended in dull draws. He played a significant part in India's tour of Pakistan in 2003-04, where the pitches in all three Tests - at Multan, Lahore and Rawalpindi - produced results.

Atkinson however, disagreed with Sunil Gavaskar's recent comment that the biggest problem in cricket is slow pitches.

"If you look at the results in the last decade, there have been more results in the past one decade than there have been in the entire history of the game. So obviously Sunny (Gavaskar) is not quite right on it," he said. "However, organisers do want a pitch to last for five days so that everyone's interest is met, the spectators', the administrators' and the biggest of them all, the TV people who bring in the money. They don't want the match to finish in three days."

Atkinson also refuted the popular belief that slow pitches are prevalent only in the subcontinent and the West Indies, after conducting laboratory tests.

"Surprisingly, when I took the soil of an Indian pitch for laboratory tests in England, I found the clay content of the soil wasn't too different from the one which is used in faster pitches around the world like Perth, Brisbane or Johannesburg.

"But maybe the groundstaff isn't too conversant in preparing pitches. The trend worldwide is to bring in former cricketers to prepare pitches. But being a former cricketer is no guarantee that they know the subject of pitch-making which can be quite complicated."