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Play league matches at neutral venues

Onus will then be on the pitch committee to produce good standard pitches, writes Makarand Waingankar

The idea of playing the knock-out round matches of the Ranji Trophy at the neutral venues may not be acceptable to teams which have made it to these rounds.

They would have preferred to have home advantage and not play at a venue which will deprive them of that benefit.

The BCCI, however, has strictly adhered to the norms set by Sunil Gavaskar’s technical committee to play matches at neutral venues.

If the logic is to ensure that associations do not mess up with the pitch preparation then the same logic should apply to league matches. At least for half a dozen matches in the Ranji Trophy league host associations had prepared green tops or under-prepared pitches.

In the Delhi — Orissa game, Delhi fearing getting relegated (eventually they were) had a green top for Ishant Sharma to take advantage. Though Delhi won, the game got over on the second day itself.

Manipulative methods

The tendency is to check what the other teams are doing in the league and prepare the pitch according to the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition. This drives the association to indulge in manipulative methods.

To negate the bowling of U.P.’s medium-pacers, Karnataka prepared a batting track so that they could bat out the opposition. Unfortunately the move backfired.

An ideal solution could be for the league matches to be played at neutral venues too. The BCCI curator’s committee could oversee the preparation of the pitches and we could expect good standard pitches as the onus will then be on the pitch committee.

There is also confusion as some of the members of the technical committee have raised issue as to why five day games of knock-out rounds have been reduced to four days. The technical committee felt that playing the extra day would prepare players from the top eight teams for international cricket.

It is the last four sessions in a 15 session game which decides the game as was witnessed in the recent Chennai Test.

To make the Ranji Trophy more interesting, each innings should be restricted to 90 overs only. A bonus point for number of centuries and five-wicket hauls could make the teams play with more planning and responsibility. And we would get to watch quality cricket.

Mediocrity

At the moment we get to watch mediocre spinners effective on under-prepared surface and batsmen can only score runs when the ball stops moving or spinning.

Now that Tendulkar, Dravid and Zaheer Khan will be available for their teams, matches will become more interesting and hopefully we will get crowds coming back to watch the National championship.

There will be a break for the India players for 70 days. This is the time they can use the matches to fine-tune their technical problems.

Most importantly youngsters in the teams will get a chance to learn the tricks of the trade which is so important for the development of the talented youngsters. Hopefully, they will not let this opportunity let by.

Corrections and Clarifications

In a Makarand Waingankar column "Play league matches at neutral venues" ("Sport", December 30, 2008) it was said that in "the Delhi-Orissa game, Delhi fearing getting relegated (eventually they were) had a green top for Ishant Sharma to take advantage. Though Delhi won, the game got over on the second day itself." The Sports Desk clarifies that the reference was to Delhi - being the defending champions, failed to qualify for the quarter-finals - having been knocked out of the super league

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