‘ICC should step in…’: Ex-Australia stars blast India's ‘doctored’ Nagpur pitch | Crickit
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'ICC should step in and do something...': Ex-Australia cricketers blast India's 'doctored' Nagpur pitch before 1st Test

Feb 08, 2023 05:31 PM IST

The Nagpur pitch curators rolled only the centre of the wicket after watering it throughout. Extra watering was done outside the left-hander's leg stump. This ploy left the Australian team, and the media puzzled and drew sharp criticism from its former cricketers.

The talk around Nagpur's pitch for the first India vs Australia Test match starting Thursday has gained momentum on the eve of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy opener. There were anticipations of the pitch assisting spinners, which is generally the case during Test matches but what made matters interesting was the way the pitch curators treated the 22 yards in Nagpur a day ahead of the Test match. They rolled only the centre of the wicket after watering it throughout. Extra watering was done outside the left-hander's leg stump. This ploy left the Australian team, and the media puzzled and drew sharp criticism from its former cricketers.

Nagpur: Indian team's head coach Rahul Dravid inspects the pitch during a practice session ahead of the 1st cricket test match between India and Australia, at Vidharba Cricket Stadium in Nagpur, Maharashtra, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. (PTI Photo/Vijay Verma)(PTI02_08_2023_000050A)(PTI)
Nagpur: Indian team's head coach Rahul Dravid inspects the pitch during a practice session ahead of the 1st cricket test match between India and Australia, at Vidharba Cricket Stadium in Nagpur, Maharashtra, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. (PTI Photo/Vijay Verma)(PTI02_08_2023_000050A)(PTI)

Simon O’Donnell, a former Australia all-rounder, wanted ICC interventions to stop India from gaining an advantage.

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“The ICC should step in and do something about it, if they think it’s not right,” O’Donnell said on SEN Breakfast. If they think the pitch is not right, there’ll be an ICC referee at the game and the ICC will be watching this game. But there are so many when it comes to India, we have all of these discussions, and nothing seems to happen. If they really think there’s a pitch here that doesn’t play to the normal standards of Test cricket and the characteristics of this ground, then the ICC need to do something.”

Former Australia fast bowler, Jason Gillespie, who has toured India multiple times, said India are trying to stifle Australia with spin as they feel that is perhaps their best bet to win the four-match Test series and qualify for the World Test Championship final.

“I think the Indian curators are looking at a way for India to have an advantage,” Gillespie told SEN WA Breakfast. They potentially think spin will play a huge role and that for the best chance to beat Australia will be to play to their strength. Here in Australia, curators are under instructions to produce the best possible pitch they can prepare, that’s Australia wide.”

Noted Australian sports journalist Robert Craddock went to the extent of terming the pitch 'doctored.'

"Australia has six left-handers in their top eight, so if you start multi-preparing parts of the deck that’s straight-up pitch doctoring, it’s poor. 90 per cent of me feels frustrated about it, but the other 10 per cent is it’s a narrative for the series, it’s just building up beautifully, isn’t it? It’s a bit of old-fashioned hijinks, Test cricket needs these plots and the drama side of me enjoys it," he said.

What are the curators doing with the Nagpur pitch?

It is difficult to predict but this is not something that has been done by Indian pitch curators for the first time. This ploy of selective treatment of the pitch is done to create an illusion in the minds of the visiting team. The less rolling and more watering on the side generally leaves the top layer of the pitch loose, which makes the surface appear dusty in the beginning but it settles down from the second day and starts to assist spinners aiming at a particular length.

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