The hero this far in IPL 6 has been the pitches
Its early days in IPL 6 and understandably the teams are settling in. The scores have been modest in comparison to the previous editions held in India, with bowlers establishing their credentials on good surfaces making it really pleasing to the eye. Central to this script has been the surfaces that we have got to see at most venues.
There's generally a lot more bounce and carry on the surfaces allowing the ball to come on to the bat a lot more while at the same time giving the bowlers a bit more encouragement. The average score in the first ten overs hover around the 60-run mark and not too many totals above or even close to 200 mark indicates, thankfully, that there is a bit more of a balance and contest between the bat and the ball in IPL 6.
Maintaining a pitch for 40 overs might not be the toughest task but factor in the climate plus the fact that an entire season of Indian domestic cricket was played on those squares, and you will get a fair idea as to how hard the groundsmen have worked to produce the kind of tracks they have thus far. It also tells you to a large extent the importance of wanting to produce good tracks and the BCCI had indicated even before the start of the tournament they were in favour of sporting tracks to maintain the contest between bat and ball.
Invariably, producing a good track, as some of the finest curators will tell you, really depends on a few fundamentals and hence adhering to those. The role of grass and water, particularly in April when it's hot across India, the rotation of tracks therefore during the course of the tournament and the use of rollers are a few fundamentals upon which the art of maintaining good tracks hinge upon. These basics were perhaps re-enforced when the curators got together for a workshop organized by the parent body.
For example, while you might want to use the heavy rollers for the materials to bind and form a good surface at the start of the season, it might not be of great use when you have almost had an entire season of domestic cricket played. Perhaps the use of a light roller can do the job a lot better. Or for that matter using the Hessian cloth, usually made of jute might just help in saving the pitch under the withering sun. Or just making sure you pick the right stretch of land from the square to play the game on.
Attention to minute details and hence altering the thought processes of the curators across India and bringing a common train of thought might be one of the biggest reasons for us getting to see good tracks and hence good contests. And in that sense, the uniformity of that thought augurs well going forward in Indian cricket. It will be interesting to see if this train of thought is maintained in domestic cricket the following season. That, in turn, will help us harness and nurse talent a lot better.
What it should do, providing we retain the energy of producing good tracks, is help batsmen adapt better. For so long, T20 cricket has heavily been against the bowlers that have in turn allowed them to explore newer ways of containing the batsmen. As a result, the batting-friendly surfaces in the past have hastened the evolution process of the bowlers. This time around logically, it should help in the evolution process of the batsmen. The best would anyway adjust and understand how to score runs. The ones aiming to be amongst the best will be put to a lot sterner tests and hopefully the players coming out of this edition wouldn't therefore turn out to be this season's wonders alone. Its early days yet but at least it's begun well.
More about Radhakrishnan Sreenivasan
S Radhakrishnan, better known as RK, is a sports freak. After dabbling in the world of Physics at the Madras Christian College, he did his Masters in Business Administration from Mumbai. Working in a corporate world didn’t suit him and he decided to enter the world of journalism. During his stint with ESPN Star Sports, RK covered the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2003, before moving on to join NEO Sports as their prime anchor. He is now the face of NEO Prime and NEO Sports.
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