Former India captain Rahul Dravid has said he isn't in favour of producing pitches that turn excessively in the Ranji Trophy and cause matches to end in two days. Dravid, the India A and Under-19 coach, said such "poor" pitches will hurt Indian cricket and harm the growth of young cricketers in the long term.
Of the 96 matches played in the 2015-16 Ranji Trophy so far, seven finished in two days while 14 ended on the third.
"It's disappointing to see this," Dravid said in Kolkata, where he is with the U-19 team, two days after Odisha lost to Bengal inside two days at a new venue in Kalyani. "I don't want to specifically mention the Bengal game, but all around in the Ranji Trophy this year teams are producing poor wickets - square turners where matches are finishing in two or three days. I don't think it's good for the health of Indian cricket."
Chasing 171, Odisha were dismissed for 37, with fast bowler Ashok Dinda taking 7 for 19 and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha taking 3 for 14. Odisha lodged a complaint with the match referee about the uneven nature of the pitch and the OCA secretary Ashirbad Behera said he would write to the BCCI asking it to investigate the issue.
Dravid was in Kalyani to watch the game and his comments came at a time when there is debate about the quality of pitches being produced for the Test series between India and South Africa. The surfaces in Mohali and Nagpur have turned from the first session of the match and batsmen from both teams have struggled to survive. Dravid, however, said there was a difference when it came to international cricket.
"It's a little different at the international level, though, since you are looking for wickets and to win matches," he said. "But at the Ranji Trophy level, we are looking to prepare the players for the international stage. What I have seen recently, these wickets are poor. I really don't think it's good for Indian cricket because if you think about them it's a waste of time, energy and money.
"The reason for the Ranji Trophy is not only to decide the winner in the end. It also has a job to develop and prepare cricketers for the international stage. And if we keep playing on bad wickets like these, we are not going to develop and produce good cricketers."
Dravid said state associations and curators needed to find a balance in laying out a pitch. "We need to nip this in the bud. We need to start forcing teams to preparing good wickets. We don't want green tops but we don't want wickets either where matches finish in two days, and people bowling darts get six-seven wickets. I think we need to be very careful that we don't go down that path.
"I am glad that the knockout stage is at neutral venues. We will see good wickets at least during the knockout stages. A lot of people criticise and say Ranji Trophy matches should be held in home venues of teams. But if teams resort to doing these kind of things, then I think it is better the knockout matches are staged in neutral venues."