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Curator defends SSC pitch for second Test

Anurudda Polonowita, Sri Lanka's national curator, has defended the pitch at the SSC, blaming the weak bowling line-ups for a dull draw

Abhimanyu Mithun gets rid of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Sri Lanka v India, 2nd Test, SSC, 5th day, July 30, 2010

A rare moment of joy for the bowlers during the batting party that was the SSC Test  •  AFP

Anurudda Polonowita, Sri Lanka's national curator, has defended the pitch at the SSC, blaming the weak bowling line-ups for a dull draw. "I am quite happy [with the pitch]," Poloniwata said. "You take the Indian side. Six or seven world-class batsmen. Top level. Better than England or Australia. What is Sri Lankan batting? Same. All record holders. What is their bowling? We had Murali, we had [Chaminda] Vaas - 800 wickets, 400 wickets. Where are they now? Now see the side. Why don't you talk about bowling rather than the pitch?
"The captains have nothing to say, and say it's a batting wicket, bowlers have no chance. They don't have the bowlers to have a chance. If Sri Lanka had those bowlers at the SSC, they would have won the match. If they took [Sachin] Tendulkar's catch, it would have been 180 for 5, anything could have happened."
The Indian bowling attack, Polonowita said, was even worse. "They played a practice game at Colts Club. The A team hammered 514 for 9," he said. "They played at Galle, and Sri Lanka we got 520 for 8. At SSC, 642 for 4. What are you talking about the pitch? Why don't you talk about the bowling? Both sides have weak bowling, both sides have brilliant batting.
"Why do crowds pay and come? To see cricket. If you want it to finish in three days, I can fix the pitch for three days. That's not cricket."
Polonowita has been involved with Sri Lankan cricket for the last 50 years. He played until 1973-74, was the team manager on Sri Lanka's first Test tour, was a selector for 15 years, vice-president of the board, and chairman of umpire committees and tour organising committees.
"I know what I am doing," Polonowita said. "If you are a bowler, you must be able to bowl on any pitch. If a bowler is bowling bumpers, batsmen don't leave their bat and go. If you face a batting pitch, you have to take the challenge.
"Any time the reporters and commentators have nothing to say, they say this is not a pitch for Test cricket. You must talk about bowling too. Murali used to turn the ball on any wicket."
Asked if the absence of Murali and Malinga had any bearing on the kind of pitch prepared at the SSC, Polonowita said it was the absence of those bowlers that made the pitch look flat. "Always similar pitch, even if we had Murali and Malinga.
"Against South Africa [on the same track] Sri Lanka hammered all the records, and still won the match. They lost because Sri Lanka had the bowlers to get the wickets."
The pitch at the P Sara Oval, Polonowita said, will make for a more even contest. "More life in this pitch for both fast bowlers and spinners," he said. "That's the natural character of the pitch. This will be a much better pitch for bowlers than the SSC. With batting also, if one fellow puts his head down and bats, he will score."

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo