Pitchy Issues: The Mark Of Champions?

India is probably the only sporting nation that celebrates draws and “tough fights”. The signs were evident when the team returned from the tour down under, having run the Aussies close, and there were celebrations. Once again, the point that India actually lost a test series abroad was buried under the cacophony of the easily satisfied Indian cricket fans, and the heroes were returned to their respective thrones.

And now, the Proteas almost beat us at a home series and all we can do, after securing a draw, is blame the curators for not making pitches that benefit the home team. Granted the fact that India’s strength traditionally has been spin, but the fact that a pitch that is conducive to pace bowling leaves the Indian team so desperately seeking a cricket school makes for disturbing images. Maybe, Team India got so caught in the Twenty20 mode, that they began batting like the amateurs who won the T20 World Cup, instead of being, what many claim, the best batting line up in the world. (For those who need a trip down memory lane, India was all out for 79 in 20 overs in the first innings.)

The very reason that India seems to be struggling to capture the second spot in world cricket, instead of marauding down the home stretch neck and neck with the Aussies, is this lack of all round brilliance and consistency. Never ever, will you see an Australian cricket team, or say an Italian football team, lose a match, and have the audacity to come out and blame the pitch. Mr. Kumble, you are an international cricketer, and have been one for the better part of two decades now. Surely, you should have known better.

The worst part of this nightmare is, now that we have actually won a test match, and leveled the series (on a shamefully spin friendly pitch), all the talk will disappear in to light and thin air.

The issue of the pitch has been around for way too long and it is only typical of our under-achieving people to not have done anything about it. On one hand, we whine, moan and scream ourselves hoarse when the team goes to a WACA or to a Trent Bridge and knocks themselves out cold on the fast bouncy tracks, and on the other we want our pitch curators to keep churning out the slow, lethargic tracks so our batsmen can keep piling on the runs to make their stats look like Vijay Mallya’s bank account. The BCCI, our ‘trusted’ cricketing body, should take some time to actually make some fast bouncy pitches so that our here-again-gone-again pacers can get some pleasure too, else the runs that the batsmen make will only be a schaden-freuden, of our own bowlers. The fact that Harbhajan Singh opened the bowling in the second innings in the match at Kanpur only goes to show how the pitch was built to give India an advantage. Murdering the spirit of the sport is what this is, almost like making the home side’s goal smaller in a football game.

It is high time that India realizes that the only way the team is going to dislodge Australia from the top spot is by being able to play equally well on all surfaces, without the batting collapses. Otherwise, the long and winding road to the second spot is what we are going to witness for a long, long time.

Vineet Kanabar

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/freelancesalman/446323545/]