The Telegraph
Monday , December 3 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
CIMA Gallary

Barren pitch is on offer

England captain Alastair Cook with team director Andy Flower during a practice session at Eden Gardens, on Sunday. The third India-England Test begins on Wednesday

Calcutta: The upcoming Test at the Eden has three principal characters. India and England are the obvious ones. But the developments over the last few days have thrown up the pitch as the crucial third character, one which threatens to provide the surprise ‘turns’ in the script.

Prabir Mukherjee, the Eden curator, has been in the limelight of late, his resignation and coming-back keeping the interested parties engaged. Mukherjee has been vocal about not giving in to India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s wish for a turner here.

But in Indian cricket, it’s the BCCI’s way or the highway… And so the preparation of the wicket, so far, has been in accordance with the wishes of the Indians.

Even if Mukherjee wants to prepare a ‘sporting’ wicket, Ashish Bhowmick, the East Zone representative on the Board’s pitches and grounds committee, is probably ensuring there’s no diversion from the ‘directive.’ Bhowmick, as sources claim, is constantly in touch with Daljit Singh, the chairman of the BCCI pitches and grounds committee.

The current look of the pitch suggests that it would be a flat track, similar to the one that was used last year for the India-West Indies Test. In stark contrast to what it was even around three days ago, when it sported a somewhat greenish look, the pitch, on Sunday, resembled a barren track with just bits and pieces of grass scattered around the centre.

The real script will unfold very soon. But in the meantime, Mukherjee insisted that the wicket would provide quality cricket instead of being a one-dimensional track. “Cricket should be played on pitches of true pace and bounce… It’s the quality of a player that should decide matches, not the pitch,” the 83-year-old told reporters.

In what would certainly not be music to the Indians’ ears, Mukherjee added: “(Graeme) Swann and (Monty) Panesar should enjoy bowling here as they concentrate on line and length.”

As of Sunday, the England camp, too, are unaware about the nature of the pitch. “We will have a closer look at the pitch on Monday… It’s important we make the right call before selecting our best XI,” England batsman Jonny Bairstow said.

With three surfaces being prepared on the Eden square, the one that hosted the Ranji Trophy clash between Bengal and Gujarat is likely to be used for the Test.

A first-hand view suggests that pacers may come in handy in the first hour, as was noticed during the Ranji encounter.

Meanwhile, at a book launch, Virender Sehwag left the CAB red in the face by asserting that the food served in the dressing room has always been substandard.

Embarrassed, the CAB has promised to speak to the caterer and provide whatever Sehwag wants on his plate.