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BCCI Skeptical of ICC’s Proposal to Provide Level Playing Field to Visiting Teams

Baidurjo Bhose |Cricketnext | Updated: July 3, 2018, 11:50 AM IST
BCCI Skeptical of ICC’s Proposal to Provide Level Playing Field to Visiting Teams

India chief coach Ravi Shastri speaks to the curator at the Wanderers Stadium in South Africa. (CricketNext)

New Delhi: Among the proposals made by the Chief Executives Committee and the Cricket Committee of the ICC in its annual conference that concluded in Dublin on Monday is that visiting teams should be provided a level preparation field before the start of a series. A press release issued at the end of the conference says the visiting team should be provided similar conditions during tour games and training sessions as to those they will find in during the series. It has also proposed providing a variety of net bowlers to help the visiting batsmen acclimatise.

However, within the BCCI the proposal has been met with scepticism. Speaking to CricketNext, a senior BCCI official who was unwilling to be named said that while on paper the policy seems fair, it remains to be seen if it will indeed be followed. He said that while the BCCI has always ensured that visiting teams get the best of facilities, the same hasn’t been reciprocated when India have been on tour.

The tour of South Africa at the start of the year is pointed to as an illustration. Two Tests into the series, the Indian team management had to fly in Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini to bowl at the nets and help the batsmen prepare for the third Test of the series in Johannesburg. Unrolled training pitches were dished out at the same venue, forcing chief coach Ravi Shastri and batting coach Sanjay Bangar to ask the curator to re-roll the wickets. The official insists this wasn’t a one-off.

“In theory this sounds good, but practically how this would pan out remains to be seen,” he said. “The ICC as it is faces allegations of favouritism in disbursement of its funds and advancing money to some member countries and one doesn’t really know whether this ploy with regards to providing a level playing field is backed with intent or if these are mere noises being made for image building. The BCCI has always ensured that we provide the best of facilities to the visiting teams and it is time for the other boards to follow suit.”

In fact, just before England’s tour of India in 2012, then rookie Virat Kohli had told this reporter how the batsmen had found it very difficult to prepare for the series in England in 2011 because the wickets on offer in the warm-up games were in complete contrast to the ones prepared for the Test matches.

The ICC has also proposed that the touring team should be treated as guests in the country with the standard of accommodation, travel and catering equal to that which the home team receives.

Reacting to this, another BCCI official recounted an incident during India’s tour of England in 2011 that saw the players being left in a fix. Despite riots in Tottenham after a police shooting, no protection was provided to the Indian players who were set to play in the third Test of the series at Edgbaston.

“In 2011, despite riots, it was only the possibility of a BCCI withdrawal that led to a police escort being organised for the Indian team in England while the BCCI on a regular basis pays the state police departments to ensure foolproof arrangements,” the official recalled. “Also, a car is provided in India for a touring team, but that is hardly ever the case for an Indian team visiting another country.”

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First Published: July 3, 2018, 11:50 AM IST
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