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Post COVID-19: Pitches back in focus, ICC should tweak ‘doctored pitches’ definition

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Cricket if and when it resumes will not be the same.

All the talk of bio-bubble, players not using their saliva to shine the ball, different teams playing on the same date across different formats, using home umpires across International matches – the game will see radical changes across the board.

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One of the biggest talking points in recent months has been about bowlers not being able to use saliva to shine the ball.

The rules of the game are already skewed heavily in favor of the batsmen and hence, there is a genuine concern as to whether this new law could make the bowlers redundant.

From Jasprit Bumrah to Pat Cummins, bowlers have expressed their desire to use the foreign substances to shine the ball, and well, the ICC’s verdict is still awaited.

However, the game will resume and it is important to maintain a fair balance between bat and ball which is why the focus should fall back on the pitches.

A sporting pitches

A sporting pitches are one which gives more assistance to the bowlers and the ICC should give the hosting nation full control and relax the criteria for passing judgement on pitches.

Hence, for instance, if the match is being played in South Africa or England, the curators should be encouraged to leave more grass on the surface as this will keep the bowlers in the game for a longer period of time and the batsmen, even when the ball wears off, will be forever on their toes.

Now, when the matches are being played in the sub-continent, the definition of a doctored pitch needs to be changed.

The ball goes soft very easily in the heat and hence, if the curators want to prepare a dry pitch where the ball starts spinning from day 1, the balance between bat and ball can be restored and there will be competition.

Yes, this could also mean that the games could be over sooner than expected, but when the bowlers will enjoy success, the batsmen will be forced to find ways and means to tackle the questions thrown at them.

Pitches need to be manged

“You could manage the pitch in such a way that you could bring about a better balance between bat and ball,” former India captain Anil Kumble said in a recent interaction with FICCI.

“You can probably leave grass on the surface or even rough it up and have two spinners,” Kumble went on to add.

“Let’s get spinners back in the game in a Test match. Because if it’s a one-day or T20 game, you’re not worried about the ball or shining of the ball. Sweat can certainly take care of that.”

Pitches will be crucial when game returns

Sri Lanka cricket coach Mickey Arthur, who too is on the ICC panel suggested that pitches and how they behave could be the crucial factor when the game returns.

“There are other ways of evening up the contest for the bowlers as well – by leaving extra grass on the pitch etc,” he said in a recent conversation.

The onus is back with the ICC, they seem to be determined to resume action and even if the game benefits the batsmen, they want the players to be back on the field.

However, although the audiences want action, they also want to be engrossed with good competition and now, bowlers not being able to use saliva to shine the ball, they need to use to their sweat or any artificial substance which will take time getting used to.

This is where the ICC has to be smart and stay ahead of the curve. They need to tweak the rules and definitions of a doctored pitch and take the risk of games being completed early, but games having good contest between bat and ball.

For now, we all await for that first ball to be bowled again. Sweat or no sweat.

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