India are no longer lions at home

Published: 06 November, 2011 01:52 IST | Sai Mohan |

Indian wickets, have failed to assist hosts in the last decade resulting in dull draws

Indian wickets, have failed to assist hosts in the last decade resulting in dull draws

The Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) Ground and Pitches Committee has come under severe flak for not producing result-oriented pitches in the last few years. While the Anil Kumble-era saw India dominate visitors at home for 14 seasons (between 1987 to 2000), every 2.69 Tests on Indian soil in the last decade have failed to yield results.

Sachin Tendulkar (right) inspects the Feroz Shah Kotla pitch on the eve
of the first Test between India and West Indies in New Delhi. Pic/AFP

India were truly lions at home and cubs away.  That tag is not relevant anymore. So what really went wrong with Indian surfaces? Since November 2008, only three bowlers have managed five-wicket hauls: Two for Zaheer Khan, one for S Sreesanth and Harbhajan Singh.

Veteran curator Daljit Singh felt that the recent change of administration would help. "The previous Board president (Shashank Manohar) had told various curators around the country that pitches must not aid spinners (like they used to in the past).

Pitches for pacers
"Suddenly, we've been having Tests that haven't seen any turn all through the five days. In fact, he wanted curators to ensure that fast bowlers were the dominant forces. In the last five years, there are hardly two or three spinners in the top 20 list of wicket-takers in Ranji Trophy. That's unheard of in India. "I think the new president (N Srinivasan), with his business background, will encourage innovations to surfaces and ensure more results come India's way," he said.

"We must keep our bowlers happy," added Singh.Former India cricketer Sudhir Naik, who represents West Zone in the Committee, blamed urbanisation and change in weather for the lack of bounce and turn in Indian pitches. "The nature of the soil has changed especially in the bigger cities. Good soil is not available. In Mumbai,
we used to collect good soil from Borivli and Kalyan mountains, but today those are extinct.

"We have to go even further to try and get good soil. Also, the heat generated by the earth warming up is not helping the situation because of that, the character of the soil is changing. "What's the need of the hour? A lot of research work. In Mumbai, we have been mixing different type of soil. Even IIT engineers are trying to find solutions. Hopefully, they can come up with an answer."

ICC's proactive approach
ICC Manager Dave Richardson says that the global governing body's role with pitches is changing from a 'monitory process' to a 'proactive one'.  "Until now, we never intervened or interrupted with home associations because we believe in their expertise. Recently, pitches have come under a lot of criticism. The ICC is positive that within the next two years, every surface in the world will be able to deliver results." Richardson said that the unwritten 'home advantage' must continue in Tests. "We want situations where teams go to other countries and get tested with different conditions," he signed off.

Summary of Test matches in each country since January 1, 2000

* Stats updated until November 5, 2011

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