Making a pitch for sporting wickets

Samandar Singh Chouhan is an unassuming man. Dedicated to his work, he is among the finest curators in the country.

Known for preparing sporting pitches, the kind batsmen and bowlers equally love, Samandar has been the trusted man of Sanjay Jagdale, the BCCI secretary. The curator has a clear mandate to do his job without any interference from any quarters.

Jagdale, who has nurtured the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association and transformed it into a professional unit, provides the curator with all the support. “I ensure he has the freedom to do his job. We interact a lot and pitch remains the top priority for every match,” said Jagdale.

Samandar believes in giving his best. “The fact that I have the support of the administration makes a lot of difference. It is not that we don't have good pitch makers in India. It is a specialised job and needs the backing of the association. I am lucky in this regard,” said Samandar.

The chief curator at the Holkar Stadium has an able assistant in Sharad Naik. The two form an ideal pair with their roles well defined. “We do our job by trying to prepare good pitches. That is the only way we can have good cricket,” stressed Samandar, who came in for praise for the playing surface he had produced for the Duleep Trophy final. The Central Zone has some fine curators in Taposh Chatterjee, in charge in Jaipur, and Ajay Sahasrabuddhe in Gwalior. They all credit their success to the free hand they get from their respective associations.

For Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, the pitches in Indore and Gwalior hold special memories. Tendulkar's 200 not out against South Africa in an ODI came in Gwalior and Sehwag improved it 22 months later in Indore with a 219 against the West Indies. Samandar and Sahasrabuddhe cherish the acknowledgement they received from the two batsmen.