Sunil Gavaskar, whose exploits in the West Indies earned him legendary status, has bemoaned the slowing down of pitches, both in the islands and in other parts of the cricketing world. Gavaskar, a guest speaker for the Sonny Ramadhin Lecture Series at the University of the West Indies, reckoned that it was critical that the game didn't slow down any further, especially with Test cricket's survival under threat in several countries where the one-day game clearly has primacy.
"One of the bigger challenges the game of cricket faces today is one of the slowing down that has taken place in all the action," said Gavaskar. "The over rates are slow...the pitches, and I think this is probably a bigger challenge than the over rates, because the pitches are very important."
His comments were especially pertinent given that they were made in Antigua, a venue that has traditionally made a mockery of the balance between bat and ball. In their last two Tests at St. John's, West Indies piled up totals of 751 and 747, with Brian Lara scoring 400 and Chris Gayle a triple-century. However, the last Test to be played at the Antigua Recreation Ground promised to be a welcome change from the norm, with India having struggled to 235 for 9 on the opening day.
Having himself played in an era when the drawn Test was the norm rather than an aberration, Gavaskar was of the view that stalemates do little good for the game. Instead of slating one-day cricket, he insisted that it had encouraged batsmen to play more shots and reduce the chances of dour days when teams dawdled along.
Currently chairman of the ICC's Cricket Committee, Gavaskar also supported the increased use of technology for adjudication of close decisions, saying: "If it is available and accurate, I think it is in the best interest of the sport because it is important to get the correct decision." He also remains a proponent of the abolition of leg-byes and overthrows off direct hits, suggesting that runs should only be scored off the bat.