Standardising Cricket

Kapil Dev has made a presentation to the BCCI that talks about improving cricket facilities in the country for players, administrators and other involved. The cost for this: a staggering Rs 130 million.

Ambitious as it may sound, the project also seems to be sensible and the BCCI would do well to implement as much of it as possible. It also includes developing pitches in the country at a cost of Rs 90 mn at least. I just hope this does not mean 'standardising' the pitches.

Of late, this is one point that has been brought up but why we would want to do something like that is beyond me. The pitch is what makes cricket the 'game of glorious uncertainties' that it is. If we are to make each pitch the same as the other, where is the batsman's or the bowler's skill displayed? We are all aware that a bowler has to work harder on batting pitches and vice-versa. If you thought that standardising pitches would give both an equal chance, sure, but it would also make the game boring. Imagine this: Day 1 of a Test: the pitch will have good bounce and some help for the seamers. Day 2: It's a bit better for batting and the bowlers have to work harder. Day 3: It's a batter's paradise and bowlers are finding it tough. Day 4: It starts to turn. Day 5: It's turning square. Hang on… is that what it is like today? So what will standardisation do? Make it an even pitch for all 5 days?

Will the roller then, be useless? The light one or the heavy one? Will it make a difference? Will it also challenge a batsman's technique… something that shows up on difficult (often referred to as poor) pitches? Will the bowlers have to do anything more than just turn up and bowl?

Traditionally, pitches in Northern India have had more bounce and help for the seamers while the dustbowls of Western and Southern India have helped spinners. The Eastern India pitches-notably Kolkatta-has been a bit of an enigma and this is what tests the captain's judgement on winning a toss and the bowler's and batsman's skills in performing.

If for a moment, we were to even accept that all pitches are standardised, what about the grounds? Should they all be the same dimensions? 70m boundaries square and 80m straight? What happens to the Oval grounds that throw up more variables in the game and the slightly smaller grounds that make for great ODI matches?

By all means, we should improve the conditions of the pitches and the grounds but not standardise them. Let them have their own character and test the players' skills. Without that, we all may as well play book cricket!

Or have I got it wrong?

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