Please note: This is a humorous piece – pure fiction.
In a quick volte-face that has confounded cricket observers across the country and elsewhere, India cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has said that the curators should prepare pitches that have pace and bounce, and ensure that adequate amount of grass is left on the wicket.
“I would like to say that we must have wickets that offer pace and bounce on all the five days of the Test match, as pace bowling is our strength,” declared Dhoni.
Reminded that he had asked for a rank turner where the ball would turn from day one at the start of the ongoing home series against England, a livid Dhoni waxed eloquent, “Yes that was my earlier demand. However, having seen that Monty (Panesar) and (Graeme) Swann used the spin-friendly pitch better than our own spinners in the second Test match, I believe that it is time for us to change the strategy for the remainder of the series. If you had observed closely you would have noticed that our pacemen Umesh Yadav and Zaheer Khan bowled better than the English speedsters in the first Test. So that is where our strength lies.”
“Our pace bowlers bowled really well. Zaheer Khan put in a lot of effort, and we saw Umesh bowling really quick in the first Test. And we have a few more quality tearaways awaiting their chance to have a go at the English batsmen,” Dhoni further added, refusing however to name them when asked.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has come out in support of Dhoni’s demand and directed the state associations to prepare pitches that assist pace bowling for the remaining two Tests, T20s, and ODIs against England.
Former India captain and batting great Dilip Vengsarkar also backed Dhoni: “It’s up to the home team and they should get the advantage. They must play to their strength and Dhoni feels that Umesh and Zaheer are his strengths,” said Vengsarkar.
However, Dhoni’s demand for quick pitches came in for some sharp criticism from former Australian captain Steve Waugh.
“Dhoni’s comments this morning were really negative to the game. You can’t ask the curators to doctor pitches in absolutely different ways every two matches. That’s not the way we Aussies play the game,” Waugh said during the India-Australia Innovative Forum in New Delhi.
“When you want to be aggressive and the best in the world, you got to take all the conditions and not always ask for conditions that suit your in-form bowlers. I was a bit surprised by Dhoni’s sudden about-turn,” opined Waugh.
“I captained the side for 57 games and never once had a word with the curator about what sort of pitch we are going to play,” Waugh said, adding that the Australian curators never needed to be told what kind of pitches would give the home team an edge over their opponents. “They did it on their own and it always suited our style,” he said with a grin.
Meanwhile, the curator of the pitch at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, where the third Test match between India and England is scheduled to be held from December 5, has said that Alastair Cook and his fellow English batsmen would find the Eden Gardens pitch too hot to handle. “It was not an easy task to change the pitch, a traditional turner, into one of the quickest wickets in so short a time. But when your team captain and board ask for it, you just go and do it,” said a beaming curator.
It is also reliably learnt that the Indian selectors have decided to drop Pragyan Ojha, R. Ashwin, and Harbhajan Singh and instead include Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, and Irfan Pathan in the squad for the remaining two Test matches which are expected to have pitches that assist pace, bounce, and sideways movement.
(Venkatesan Iyengar was a speedster who could swing the ball both ways. He captained his school team at the zonal and district levels. His boyhood dream was to open the bowling for Team India in the august company of his idol Kapil Dev. Even today the sight of Kapil makes him nostalgic)