BCCI chief curator defends pitch: ‘We had just four days to get it ready for semis’

With the semifinal match between Kerala and Vidarbha ending under two days, the BCCI chief curator Daljit Singh justified saying there wasn't enough time to prepare the pitch because of a packed schedule.

BCCI chief curator Daljit Singh said it was a challenge to prepare pitches in a season which saw over 2000 domestic matches being played in the country.   -  Akhilesh Kumar (File photo)

The wicket at the Krishnagiri stadium in Wayanad came under criticism on Thursday after Vidarbha toppled Kerala in under two days to seal a place in the Ranji finals.

"It's a dangerous pitch to bat on, you expect a better surface for a crucial semifinal encounter like this," Vidarbha head coach Chandrakant Pandit said at the post-match presser.

Now BCCI chief curator Daljit Singh has come out in defence of the surfaces used at the venue.

"I agree with Mr. Pandit that a semifinal pitch should last for five days but at the same time, there are a very few wickets in the country where the ball seams and swings so much," Singh told Sportstar.

"And we had three days to prepare the surface(for quarterfinals). We have to make do with the conditions we have. The grass there was too thick... Levelling of pitches wasn't up to the mark and it can't be corrected in just three days...On the 19th, after the quarters finished, you find out about the venues. Then the same rush ensues. We had four days to get the wickets ready for the semis.” — Daljit Singh, BCCI chief curator

"All their home games this season happened in Thumpa, Thiruvananthapuram, and then they came to Wayanad. The Krishnagiri pitch had not hosted a Kerala game before the quarters.

"And we had three days to prepare the surface(for quarterfinals). We have to make do with the conditions we have. The grass there was too thick... Levelling of pitches wasn't up to the mark and it can't be corrected in just three days," he added.

READ: Vidarbha topples abject Kerala in under two days, reaches final

Explaining the challenges of pitch preparation in a season which saw over 2000 domestic matches being played, Singh said, “This year, Ranji Trophy was played from November 1 instead of the usual October start. That means there was a drastic change in weather in North, North East and Central India. We had a total of 153 league games.

“The last leg of league matches got over on Jan 10. 10th night, the venues for the quarters were locked. Tickets were booked for curators to travel on the 11th. "So they had three days 12, 13, 14 for effective preparation. On the 19th, after the quarters finished, you find out about the venues. Then the same rush ensues. We had four days to get the wickets ready for the semis."

"It's a herculean task, organizing so many matches. There were times when the Ranji games were overlapping with the U-19, U-23 matches. Out of the 153 league games, there were 97 outright wins this season which is 63 per cent, significantly higher than last season's 57," Singh justified.

Having recorded his career best domestic figures of 7 for 48, Vidarbha seamer Umesh Yadav, in fact, praised the wicket rating it as “one of the fastest pitches he has played on in India”.

Wayanad will also host the four-day Tests between India A and England Lions from February 7 to 16.

“Ashish Bhowmick, BCCI’s neutral curator, will take care of the preparations for these four-day Tests.

"He's going back to Wayanad on the 28th. He will have more time to assess the conditions. Head coach Rahul Dravid has asked the pitch committee to not dole out rank turners. He says 'we need more competitive wickets' going forward," Singh informed.