Chennai pitch curator planned his action against Cyclone to perfection
Updated - Dec 17, 2016 6:54 am
The eagerness to ensure a game of cricket goes on without any hindrance can be perfectly explained by the example of the M Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. Just a couple of days ahead of the Test match the coastal state of Tamil Nadu was hit by Cyclone Vardha though they didn’t have any control over that the pitch curator at the Chepauk and the ground staff planned their response to perfection.
As soon as S Vasthirautham the curator learnt about the chances of Cyclone striking Chennai he started his preparations. He analyzed the tools at hands, the ground cover in particular and found it wasn’t the best in case since they were not just dealing with rain but a Cyclone. He checked with the BCCI South Zone curator as well as the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association if they could help him procure a heavier cover.
“After the cyclone, we wanted to show the world we can still host a Test match. We wanted to give the people of Madras Test cricket. They had not witnessed one in three years. It was our duty to make it possible,” Vasthirautham was quoted by the Indian Express.
TNCA was willing to extend their support and they shell out 2.17 lakhs to get the covers that were as heavy as one ton in weight.
“The cover BCCI gave was getting old and I had a feeling we needed other options. I don’t know where the thought came from. But when I asked TNCA, they immediately agreed.”
Vasthirautham’s team worked through the Cyclone and made sure things didn’t go out of control and they were always in a position to host the game.
“The BCCI cover, which can cover the entire square (10 pitches), weighs around 300 kg. I felt we needed a heavier one because there was a cyclone threat. I chose the best tarpaulin in the market. It weighs a ton. If not for that cover, this match would have been called off,” he said.
Just the covers wouldn’t have enough weight in them to beat the cyclonic winds and so they placed 20 heavy iron pipes and used nails to ensure they wouldn’t blow away with the wind.
“In my 32 years of experience, I’ve witnessed cyclones and rains. I know how to handle them. But Monday was different. The winds were so heavy that when I reached the ground, the covers were threatening to go off anytime. But luckily, they got tangled and locked in such a position that the wind couldn’t lift them off. Every now and then, I would go down, untangle them. This went on for almost four hours,” the 50-year-old said.
When the cyclone passed and they eventually removed the covers to their pleasant surprise there was no damage at all but the grass had grown up to 8mm which they had to chop down to 6mm.
“Because of the heavy covers nothing happened to the track. The grass had grown to 8mm and we had to mow it down to 6mm. Because it was covered, the moisture remained and we had to use coal to dry it. I’ve made pitches that have won praise. Nothing beats this.”