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Fuss over spin-friendly Ahmedabad wicket hides England’s lack of application

The controversy over the pitch in the third India-England Test match at Ahmedabad has seen former English cricketers like Michael Vaughan, Andrew Strauss and David Lloyd question the spinning track that was offered to the visitors which saw them lose within two days. In fact, the Ahmedabad tie was the shortest completed Test match since 1935. This has led to the criticism that the pitch wasn’t good enough for Test cricket and India was unfairly preparing rank turners. But such an argument reeks of hypocrisy and fails to look at other factors that saw England underperform.

There’s no denying that every home team prepares pitches according to local conditions. That’s the whole point behind home advantage. In fact, when Team India tours abroad, it has to contend with green tops and bouncy tracks in England, Australia and New Zealand. No one cries foul on these occasions and Team India’s difficulties in coping with prodigious swing and bounce are put down as lack of application. Besides, there’s nothing in the rulebook about what kind of pitches home teams should prepare for a good contest. With England having first choice of the surface at Ahmedabad, one doesn’t see what the fuss is all about.

Second, England’s team selection was odd in that they went with three fast bowlers on a turning track. Plus, their rotation policy has already seen players like Moeen Ali – whose spin could have helped at Ahmedabad – go home. Then there is the statistic of India’s pink-ball Test matches – like Ahmedabad – ending within three days. Therefore, the Ahmedabad result had many factors. While there’s something to be said about Test matches not lasting the full five days – perhaps this is an impact of T20 cricket – imputing biases here is uncalled for. After all, cricket remains a game of ‘glorious uncertainties’.

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This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.



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