The unfit pitch at Gopal Maidan, which hosted an ‘A’ Division match on Thursday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
A bunch of young cricketers had the ‘experience of a lifetime’ playing on a moon-like surface in Jamshedpur, but it was no gravity-defying stunt. Neither were they over the moon after the match.
Gopal Maidan, which hosted Jharkhand State Cricket Association’s ‘A’ Division T20 knockout between Pioneer Cricket Club and National Cricket Club on Thursday, offered as many as 15 rough patches on the 22 yards and at least two of them were in the good length area.
Watering on Wednesday evening had compounded the pitch poser. The patches had not dried up until morning and umpires were forced to delay the match.
The play area looked so lousy that some players even refused to play, citing uneven bounce and also chances of injury. Umpires had a tough job convincing them and the match got underway with pruned overs. “We knew that the pitch was not match-fit, but we were helpless. We had to follow JSCA instructions. The match started late and was reduced to seven overs a side,” said one of the umpires.
Hosting an ‘A’ Division fixture on such a pitch has put a question mark on the way the state cricket outfit conducts local matches, which include league and knockout meets for both ‘A’ and ‘B’ divisions, besides inter-school tournaments. Performance in these matches is considered the yardstick for selection into the state team.
A young player, infuriated with the condition of the pitch, went to the extent of saying that local tournaments were baseless charades. “Performance in division matches is key to state selection. But, how can one deliver on such a rough pitch. It is clear that the JSCA is organising a farce,” he said.
Groundsmen, on their part, said they did not get adequate time to prepare the pitch. “The state cricket outfit asked us to do the job two days ago. It was an impossible task because a good deck needs time. Proportionate amount of rolling and watering is needed,” said one of them.
Another conceded that the pitch was prepared hastily and haphazardly. He also blamed frequent functions at Gopal Maidan for the dismal state of the two pitches. “Every time there is a fair, the ground is maimed with bamboo poles. How can you expect it to be pitch-perfect?” he said.
Shastrinagar resident Harbans Singh, a morning walker at Gopal Maidan, agreed. “This venue should be used only for sports and fitness activities. Frequent fairs damage the ground and render it unsuitable for games,” he said.
Admitting possible lapses, JSCA assistant secretary Aseem Kumar Singh said he would ask the outfit’s school and club representative Lalan Rai to look into the matter. “I have not seen the pitches at Gopal Maidan lately, but we will surely mend them. I will ask the club representative to initiate remedial steps at the earliest,” he promised.
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