It is wrong to call Pune pitch 'poor' : BCCI to ICC

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Steve O'Keefe
Steve O’Keefe. (Photo Source: BCCI)

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has cleared things out to the International Cricket Council (ICC) in its reply that the board begs to differ from match referee Chris Broad’s report that the pitch in Pune for the first Test between India and Australia was poor.

Australian spinner Steeve O’Keefe was magical with the ball picking up 12 wickets for just 70 runs while we saw the match end in just three days time. Chris Broad wasted no time and submitted his match report to the ICC which stated the quality of the pitch to be poor. The ICC forwarded the report to the BCCI giving them two weeks time to answer back. The BCCI came up with a firm reply to the ICC on Friday and the decision to support the pitch quality was taken at a meeting of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators.

“That wasn’t a poor pitch. The Aussies scored 260 and 285 on it, after all. The definition of a poor pitch is that there’s uneven bounce, and batsmen are getting hurt. Did that happen in Pune?

“I agree the match ended early, India scored few runs (105 and 107), but Steve Smith scored a ton in the second innings, and KL Rahul scored a fifty. If a pitch doesn’t turn in the sub-continent, then where will it? We beg to differ… this isn’t a poor track. We disagree with Broad’s observation on the pitch. To term the Pune wicket as poor is harsh,” a BCCI official told TOI.

The BCCI has countered the ICC by putting up a strong argument that it is only the Indian pitches that comes under scrutiny. It also thinks that this is a plan to keep India away from their “home advantage”. A similar incident came into occurrence in 2015 when India defeated the South Africans in three days time. That time it was ICC referee Jeff Crowe who had labelled the pitch as ‘poor’. “If the pitch offers turn, it’s bad. If it’s a seaming pitch, like it was at Nottingham in 2015 when England pacer Stuart Broad took eight for 15 to skittle out Australia for 60, then it’s said that there’s a problem with the batsmen’s technique. This is double standards. We’d given the same argument to the ICC in case of Nagpur back then, but the ICC didn’t accept it,” said a BCCI official.

ICC’s General Manager (Cricket) Geoff Alardice and ICC’s Chief referee Ranjan Madugalle will now assess BCCI’s response and go through footages of the match before taking a decision over the pitch. The penalty for a pitch which is ruled substandard for the first time – as may be the case for Pune, which was hosting its first ever Test – is “a warning and/or a fine not exceeding $15,000 given together with a directive for appropriate corrective action,” according to Clause 4 of the ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process.

A pitch is considered to be poor if it favours the spinners from the beginning of a match and that is the main concern for the BCCI. The pitch that was provided for the first Test is being suspected more because in this case, Ravichandran Ashwin bowled the second over of the match and also opened the bowling in the second innings with fellow spinner Ravindra Jadeja. Australia on the other hand started with Steeve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon in the second innings. Speedsters Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood only shared 20 overs between them in the Test match.

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