India coach Rahul Dravid minced no words in criticising International Cricket Council (ICC)’s decision to give ‘average’ rating to the pitches in Ahmedabad and Chennai, saying those surfaces tested cricketers’ all-round ability and weren’t simply belters supporting batsmen.
Dravid, who began answering a question about rating of pitches in Hindi, immediately switched to English fearing inability to express himself clearly on a sensitive matter.
But he didn’t hold back his feelings, almost shooting from the hip, to express his disappointment over decisions made by former cricketers and now ICC match referees – Andy Pycroft for Ahmedabad and Richie Richardson for Chennai.
“If you only want to see 350 [run] games and rate only those pitches as good, then I disagree. I think you have to see different skills on display. If we want to see only fours and sixes being hit, then we have T20 cricket. We also played in Delhi and Pune, which were 350-plus tracks. If only those pitches are good, then why are the bowlers here? Why have spinners at all,” he told the media on Saturday, a day before India’s World Cup league-stage game against New Zealand at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) ground here in Dharamsala.
India played Australia in Chennai and Pakistan in Ahmedabad, winning both matches. The opposition teams failed to reach even 200 on those surfaces batting first.
Dravid then laid bare, what can be inferred from his comments, the ICC double standards.
“Last year at the T20 World Cup, [on a fast, bouncy track in Perth that saw low scores], India play South Africa, [with the ball] seaming and swinging all over the place. That’s a T20 game [which is generally batting-friendly]. I don’t know what rating was given to that,” said the former India captain about the match where India folded for 133 on a pace bowling-friendly surface.
“[Then in] World T20 final, Pakistan play England. Again 130 is scored in a T20 game. I am not complaining about that. I think it is good, it is great. That pitch at Perth was good. It challenged different skills. It brought different skills out on display. Sometimes pitches will [help] turn a bit, sometimes they will [help] seam a bit, they will [help] swing a bit, they will [aid] bounce a bit. But if all we want to call [those surfaces where] sixes and fours are hit in 350 scores, then I disagree.”
The 50-year-old said that playing all across India can throw up challenges where sometimes the batting team can aggregate 350-plus and sometimes it cannot as spinners come into play.
“The team that copes well with all of those challenges will end up being successful.”
He also empathised with the bowlers.
“You want to standardise everything and make every wicket a 350 wicket? Yes, we see some great hitting. We see some terrific shots being played and all that. But other skills get missed out… But the first few games, when it spins a little bit, it brings the bowlers into the game [and] you start rating them as average. Where does it leave the bowlers? Why are they coming then? If all we want to see is fours – like I said – we have T20, play two T20 matches.”