WHILE batsmen are making merry on Indian cricket’s domestic scene, it’s not the season to be jolly.
Tall scores and extended stints at the wicket do indicate that pitches are not sporting and heavily loaded in favour of batsmen. This is not good news. Not only will domestic cricket performances be considered lopsided, it will also discourage hardworking bowlers without whom matches cannot be won.
Last Saturday, Maharashtra’s Kedar Jadhav scored 327 against UP in Pune. Yesterday, Saurashtra’s Ravindra Jadeja cashed in at Surat’s Contractor Stadium for a triple century against Gujarat while batting partner Sagar Jogiyani missed his by 18 runs. It would be unfair to deny tall-scoring batsmen some credit, but in the case of Jadeja and Jogiyani, their efforts for Saurashtra came after the opposition had scored 600. If this is not courtesy a featherbed, nothing is.
Negative play doesn’t do players any good. And apart from killing spectator interest, big players will find another reason to skip Ranji Trophy games.
Suresh Raina has made some unwelcome statements of late, but he appeared fully justified when he slammed Maharashtra’s tactics in the Ranji game which ended tamely. “I am unhappy with the way they have approached the game. They needed to give us time to chase well,” Raina was quoted as saying. This outburst would never have taken place had the wicket been absolutely sporting.
Administrators must encourage curators to prepare fair tracks. In fact, at times, there’s no harm in rolling out a real ripper where batsmen are tested with the bouncing ball. That’s exactly what they will face in Australia and South Africa, so why not get used to it at home?
With referees being present at all first-class venues, their evaluation must be frank and fearless. If not, Indian cricket will be back to square one – heroes at home, zeroes abroad.