No rank turners this time, says chief curator Daljit Singh

At the end of a curators' workshop in New Delhi, attended by 26 curators from affiliated state units and ten appointed by the Board, a framework was finalised to prepare lively pitches.

The Board had come in for criticism in the 2015-16 season when nine matches were reported to have been played on doctored pitches. (File Image)   -  K. Murali Kumar

No rank turners in this domestic season. “Not that we had such pitches last season but the Board has taken some commendable steps to ensure we get to see some excellent playing surfaces,” chief curator Daljit Singh told Sportstar.

At the end of a workshop here on Tuesday, attended by 26 curators from affiliated state units and ten appointed by the Board, a framework was finalised to prepare lively pitches.

According to Board's acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary, “The concept of neutral venues was tried last season but many said it was not in the spirit of cricket. This time there was overwhelming support to have cricket on home and away basis which is how it is played all over the world. The role of the curators becomes more important now. It would also mean that no one can raise a finger against pitch preparation.”

The biggest gain, emphasised Choudhary, was, “Our curators will successfully dispel all notions of making pitches which are not sporting. People will learn to trust the integrity of the curators.”

The Board had come in for criticism in the 2015-16 season when nine matches were reported to have been played on doctored pitches. Saurashtra had laid out minefields to facilitate the return of Ravindra Jadeja, who accounted for six five-wicket hauls in a row.

“There will be obviously strict monitoring this season. We don't want a repeat of two years ago when some associations prepared such pitches. The workshop (on Tuesday) was a good idea. It brought the curators on one platform to discuss their ideas. I am sure the BCCI has the mechanism to penalise those who indulge in doctored pitches,” said Daljit.

As an incentive, the Board will award one association in each zone for laying out the “best” pitch. As Daljit pointed out, “You have to reward hard work. It will create healthy competition among the curators and the players will benefit from it. We are going to have uniform way of pitch preparation with instructions in place for rolling, brushing and cutting the grass, watering the surface.”

From this season, the neutral curators would take charge of all work five days before the match. “I have suggested that the Match Referee should also reach the venue two days before the match and take charge. It will help a lot,” Daljit added.

“I can assure you we have the right people to roll out sporting pitches where the ball will spin (in South) and seam (in North). We can look forward to some good cricket cricket this season because the intentions of the Board are good,” Daljit promised.