Social media reacts to India's selective pitch watering to counter Aussie lefties
Early images of the pitch slated for play in the opening Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Nagpur have sparked a controversy. With clicks from Cricbuzz journalist Bharat Sundaresan's official Twitter handle bringing to light the selective watering of the 22 yards, there are heated discussions around the surface for the first Test.
Sundaresan highlighted an interesting method deployed by the pitch curator and his team two days prior to the first ball in play, wherein they rolled only the centre of the track and the area outside the left-hander's leg-stump on both ends.
Given that there are set to be five left-handers within the Australian top 7, it is seemingly an effort from the Indian camp to seek early advantage of the home conditions. However, this tactical nuance wasn't part of the debates when prominent voices within the Australian circuit accused the hosts of "pitch-doctoring" and playing unfairly.
Robert Craddock, an Australia-based cricket expert, said on SEN's podcast, "It’s a multi-toned pitch. The classic saying about pitches is, ‘Oh, it’s the same for everyone." Craddock says the counter-argument of Australia preparing even more hostile tracks when India travel there wouldn't hold here because they, he claims, don't indulge in selective watering or rolling of the surfaces.
"When the Gabba pitch too much grass was left on it, people were saying, ‘Yes, it was not a great wicket, but it was the same everyone'. But you can’t say that about this pitch, Australia has six left-handers in their top eight, so if you start multi-preparing parts of the deck that’s straight-up pitch doctoring, it’s poor."
Australian experts, fans give their views on the Nagpur Test pitch
Former Australia pacer Jason Gillespie was a little conservative in his view about the surface but said the base idea from India's perspective remains to take "advantage" of the conditions and the surface in play. But another ex-cricketer and Aussie expert Simon O’Donnell went to the extent of asking the ICC to intervene in India's pitch preparations.
"The ICC should step in and do something about it, if they think it’s not right," he said. "If they think the pitch is not right, there’ll be an ICC referee at the game and the ICC will be watching this game.But there’s so many when it comes to India, we have all of these discussions, and nothing seems to happen."
The world cricket reacted to the images posted by Sundaresan on Twitter, leading to more heated discussions around the surface.
Here is how cricket followers reacted:
Surely the @ICC has the ability to act on this before the start of a Test match. Doesn't the Match Referee have an oversight of pitch preparation as part of his/her duties? https://t.co/OwuUWgbmOk— Larry Leprechaun (@LarryLeprechau) February 8, 2023
for aus left handers india done this , https://t.co/LmGlPzaj3z pic.twitter.com/hjpMzcVSKU— maddy (@sharmamaddy4321) February 8, 2023
Ummmm…— Shmick ‘23 🇦🇺 (@ShmickThird) February 8, 2023
Straight-up pitch doctoring, but the ICC won’t do anything because it’s India?#INDvsAUS #BorderGavaskarTrophy #Cricket 🏏 https://t.co/syEUSJyRaE
This went on only after the Australians had left the stadium for the day. It was very interesting, to say the least https://t.co/zp6c3BVnoV— Oliver Caffrey (@ollycaffrey) February 8, 2023
Im all for home teams skewing things in their favour but this seems a step too far given Aus is LH heavy and India is the opposite.— Tom O'Neil (@thomasjameoneil) February 8, 2023
Surely there are laws around not doctoring parts of the pitch pre-match. https://t.co/D3JEaI3oSQ
Border-Gavaskar is approaching Ashes levels of pre-series mind games. Love it, great theatre https://t.co/EKgmp0jVNd— Rudi Edsall (@RudiEdsall) February 7, 2023
Absolutely nothing wrong with this, it’s why winning away is always so difficult and part of what makes it so compelling to watch. You need to beat the best in their conditions. https://t.co/bsrPVUuA0Q— Nate Llewellyn (@MrNateLlewellyn) February 8, 2023
Indian fans playing the "But both teams have to play on it card" should probably check the difference in the number of left handed players in both squads. If you think pitch preparation like this falls within the spirit of the game then you're deluded. #INDvAUS https://t.co/b22uWRO3g2— Alexander Grant (@AlexGrantOz) February 7, 2023
Make up any defence you want, this is extremely dodgy. https://t.co/spTuhVZ3Q1— Michael Atkinson (@kinson88) February 7, 2023
Either way, the debate around the fair or unfair means to create the pitch has further spiced up the series that promises to be the best advert of the longstanding India-Australia rivalry.