International Cricket Council, the Dubai-based body that runs the game across the world, often cops criticism. However, their swift action in deeming the Trent Bridge wicket that witnessed a tame end to the opening India vs England Test last week as “poor” must be commended.
Whether this quick work by the ICC can be attributed to India’s clout in world cricket, one can never say for sure. But quite clearly, the shoe is on the other foot because for years, teams have criticised the sub-continent for poor pitches and have called for venue bans.
Trent Bridge suffers the ignominy of being the first international pitch in the United Kingdom to get a “poor” rating ever since ICC initiated a process for grading pitches in 2010.
Test cricket is facing its biggest threat from the shorter forms of the game and if the oldest form of cricket has to see bigger crowds, sporting pitches must be on offer in every Test. Trent Bridge witnessed only 29 wickets and as many as 1,344 runs.
Doubtless, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has a lot to justify to the ICC through the hosts Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club. To Indian cricket followers, the Test strip was a shocker considering Trent Bridge has been known for its lively wickets.
In 2011, MS Dhoni’s men bowled out England for 221 on the first day before they lost their grip on the game to be defeated by 319 runs. A verdict on the punishment will be reached only after the ECB respond to the ICC. Until then, curator Steve Birks will continue to be supported by his employers.
Nottinghamshire’s chief executive Lisa Pursehouse recently emphasised: “The role of a Test Match Venue groundsman is fraught with immense pressure and variable factors and we are blessed to have one of the very best in Steve Birks.”
Hopefully, the “immense pressure” the official refers to is only about Birks’ stress levels and not about pressure from administrative forces to produce a batsman-friendly track.