Embarrassment aplenty at VCA

Lack of attention to details is the hallmark of Indian cricket officials

One of Indian cricket’s newest venues hardly covered itself in glory, given its supreme unpreparedness and the lack of adequate drainage facilities.

It hasn’t rained in Nagpur since 3.30 pm on Friday. Play on day one of the final Test against New Zealand wasn’t scheduled to begin until 9.30 am on Saturday, a good 18 hours later, but even that length of time wasn’t enough to get the ground ready for a prompt start.

The problem area was a small strip of the outfield just in front of the players’ pavilion which, given the manner in which the stadium is constructed, is always immune from the effects of the sun.

All it would have taken for a prompt start would have been to drape that area in covers at the first hint of rain. Sadly, those covers were conspicuous by their absence.

There can be nothing more frustrating for everyone involved in the conduct of a cricket match than to cool their heels when the sun is out and there is no reason why play shouldn’t be held.

It’s one thing for centres like Kochi and Goa to be short on facilities; after all, the grounds there aren’t the property of the respective cricket associations. The VCA has no such excuse, and most certainly not when it’s the home of the BCCI president, Shashank Manohar.

After a couple of inspections, it was eventually decided to bring the boundary in five yards to take a part of the offending area out of play. Why that decision wasn’t taken earlier is another matter altogether.

Then, the ground staff got to work, sprinkling sawdust liberally on the affected areas and drawing the water out by repeatedly using the roller.

Play eventually got under way at 12.30 pm, 140 minutes behind schedule, but there is no gainsaying what the state of the still sodden outfield will be if there should be further precipitation at any time during the next four days.

New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori embraced diplomacy when he spoke of the delay. “With the rain coming around and the sun never seeing that part of the ground, it was going to be difficult,” he observed. “It was basically difficult there; the umpires and the ground staff did everything they could do. Things could get even more difficult if there is further rain.”

Why is it that our attention to detail is so minimal?

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