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Another Aussie up Laxman’s sleeve

V.V. Subrahmanyam


Aitken says pitch should provide for a high-scoring game

He hopes Shoaib Akthar would enjoy playing on the pitch


HYDERABAD: He is the unsung hero responsible for all the excitement in the DLF-Indian Premier League matches at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here.

Spin legend and Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Warne is usually careful with his compliments. But when he said the curator had done a wonderful job in preparing the pitch for the Rajasthan Royals versus Deccan Chargers match the other night, he might not have been aware that it was an Australian he was praising.

And, when Deccan Chargers coach Robin Singh sought the services of this curator — Ricky Aitken — to take care of the pitch preparations, the Aussie curator once again did a wonderful job.

Any visitor to the venue would be startled to see Aitken mowing the grass all over the ground, all alone, and driving his mechanised trolley to ensure that the playing area was perfect.

Plenty of runs

“My job is to prepare a good Twenty20 wicket, one which is full of runs and also gives the bowlers enough carry,” he told The Hindu.

This 31-year-old from Tasmania believes the pitch should provide for a high-scoring game. When reminded about the likelihood of Pakistani pace ace Shoaib Akthar playing in the match for Kolktata Knight Riders on May 11 against Chargers here, he said he hoped the speedster would enjoy playing on the pitch.

Aitken has been on the job for about a month and has brought about a sea change in the appearance of the Visaka Ground. Still, he believes that there is plenty to be done, particularly in the outfield.

“A Twenty-20 wicket cannot be sporting. It has to be batsman-friendly. Sporting wickets are best suited for Tests and I am confident that Rajiv Stadium should become one of the best Test-staging centres,” he said.

Right now, Aitken, who worked at Lord’s for two years before moving to Hong Kong, is busy reducing the height of the outfield to ensure a faster surface, given the requirements of IPL. “Apparently, this ground is not used to being treated harshly and that’s why there are still some spots in the outfield which need a lot of watering to get the green cover,” he said.

A notch or two ahead

The Deccan Chargers may still be in the process of getting charged up for the crucial matches ahead but this Australian seems to be well ahead if his demanding daily regimen is any indication.

And, thanks to the initiative of ACA secretary V. Chamundeswaranath, Aitken will be monitoring the re-laying of the pitch at the Vizag stadium also. “Frankly, that outfield is terrific and much better than this one. And, the structure of support staff is more organised there,” he says.

Perhaps V.V. S. Laxman can bank on this Australian too and not just on Adam Gilchrist’s explosive batting, in his team’s fortunes.

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