Daljit Singh, the former head of the BCCI Ground and Pitch Committee, has been left disgruntled by the ‘used’ pitch made available for the one-off Test between India and England Women in Bristol on Wednesday.
“I’ve not seen the pitch. I can only comment based on my experience. It is not fair or correct,” the veteran curator told Sportstar on Wednesday.
“The difference between a limited-overs game and a four/five-day game is that the pitch behaves differently every day. In limited overs, your work gets done in 40 or 100 overs. Whereas in a four/five-day match, the pitch will be different on each day. If you play an international T20 on a pitch that has been a week ago, that’s still okay, but for a Test match, it’s unfair and wrong,” Singh said.
Ahead of the game, England skipper Heather Knight revealed that the women would play on a pitch that was used for a Gloucestershire T20 match last week. “It is a used wicket. Not ideal. We would have liked a fresh wicket. We found out last week and tried to get it changed, but it was too late. We don’t know how it’s going to play, but it is what it is. No point moaning about it,” the 30-year-old told reporters.
Singh believes that playing on such pitches could impact any possible advantage of the toss. “The toss is important. You win the toss, and the wicket is fresh. If you bat, you have to save your early wickets and bat cautiously. For one day games, wickets are often flat. In the first six overs, you start hitting in the powerplay.”
“Wickets will change as the Test progresses. Making a used pitch available is like starting on a second-day wicket,” he added.
Singh feels the International Cricket Council (ICC) should set a few guidelines. “If this would have been the other way around, the English would not have appreciated us giving them a pitch like this. In this case, there’s no home advantage either as the English players are unhappy too. It’s ICC’s business though it is a prerogative of the home board to handle the pitch, general guidelines are needed. It is time for ICC to take notice and let home boards know that this is unacceptable,” he said.
A spokesperson for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) issued an apology to the players acknowledging that the England Women ‘deserved a fresh wicket’ on their return to Tests after two years. “With the Test only being added to the calendar in mid-April, coupled with the lack of available first-class grounds, we knew that a fresh pitch was going to be a challenge. We accept that this issue shouldn’t have arisen. We will make sure it doesn’t happen in the future,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying by BBC Sport.
Singh said it was a “lame excuse” as the Test match schedule was announced three months ago. “Even otherwise, this happens to the grounds all the time. What curators do is prepare both pitches or part-prepare the Test match pitch earlier. When they were making the T20 pitch for the Gloucestershire game, they should have worked on the Test match pitch also. Part preparation should have been done and left. A week before or five days before, you fully prepare. There’s no excuse. Someone’s been lazy and stupid and not done it,” he exclaimed.
England won the toss and chose to bat on the Bristol pitch with an even grass cover on Wednesday. When the teams broke for lunch, Tammy Beaumont, who made a measured 66 off 144 balls, called the pitch “a dead wicket without much sideways movement”.