Kotla mess earns India disgrace

Crowd runs amok; ICC mulls over ban

Kotla mess earns India disgrace

It’s not cricket: Damaged seat covers thrown by spectators in protest against the  cancellation of  the fifth and final One Day International between India and Sri Lanka at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI

The pitch had an uneven sprinkling of grass, and the Sri Lankans were 83 for five in 23.3 overs when match officials deemed the surface too treacherous for play to continue. Consequently, thousands of spectators were disappointed when the match was called off, forcing the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) to promise a refund to all who held valid tickets and were on the galleries on Sunday.

An ICC spokesman said that the process has started and Match Referee Alan Hurst would submit his report in the next 12 hours.

As per the ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process, a first time breach could invite “a suspension of the venue’s international status for a period of between 12 and 24 months together with a directive for appropriate remedial action and the need for prior ICC re-accreditation as an international venue”.

An unruly crowd erupted in anger after the ODI was abandoned. Realising the chances of further play was slim, they started hurling water bottles and chair covers into the ground, while some raised banners reading “I want my money back”. They also screamed “hai hai” and “sack the curator”. Some others then started breaking the chairs in the stand and hurled it inside ground. The entire outfield was littered with missiles and the security personnel were on their toes to prevent any untoward incident.

The disaster at the Feroze Shah Kotla here on Sunday was waiting to happen. The gentlemen associated with the preparation of the strip for the doomed final one-dayer between India and Sri Lanka cannot deny they were not warned to clean up their act.
An ICC Events Management team headed by Chris Tetley had visited the Kotla as part of its fact-finding journey in preparation for the 2011 World Cup in the sub-continent, and had expressed serious concerns over the quality of the Kotla surface not so long back.

And after drawing much flak, the pitch was given a facelift, with a layer of grass over it for Sunday’s game. The dangers of the pitch, which Tetley had forseen, were visible in the early stages of the match.

One ball would remain low after pitching on the bald area and the next one would kick up after landing on the grassy patches. One such delivery in the 10th over from Ashish Nehra cracked Tilakaratne Dilshan’s left-arm and the batsman, despite wearing the arm guard, collapsed on the ground writhing in pain.

Kumar Sangakkara, back in the hut already, and Mahela Jayawardene, out due to a groin injury, flailed their arms in frustration even as the Lankan skipper asked his men in the line of fire–Thilina Kandamby and M Pushpakumara–to come out. A lengthy discussion followed among the two captains, match referee Alan Hurst, umpires Shavir Tarapore and M Erasmus, first on the field and then inside before the match was called off at 12.30 pm.

It was as if Tetley had scripted the Lankans’ misery. “There is an ODI at this venue on December 27, 2009, and a considerable improvement of the pitch block will be required by then to make the pitch provided more acceptable,” Tetley had written in his report.
More damningly, he also shed light on the apathy of the local officials concerned. “It was apparent when speaking with the local officials that they are reluctant to openly discuss the problems they are having with the pitch, and that they are to some extent in variance with the BCCI Pitch Consultant (Daljit Singh) regarding how they are to move forward to resolve the problems with this surface.”

The Delhi and District Cricket Association, Tetley pointed out, wanted to replant the pitches with local grass. “If that is the case, then it is extremely important that, prior to replanting grass, the pitch block is given severe scarification to remove all the organic matter that has been left behind from the grass that died off when originally seeded. To simply replant without this major renovation of the surface would be a major miscalculation, and would result in inadequate pitches at a later date.

“The dead and decaying grass and roots left in the soil profile will break down into organic matter and will contribute to the dilution of the clay content of the soil and contribute to pitches produced in the future being slow in pace, spongy in texture and would tend to generate low, and inconsistent bounce from the pitches in the future.
“The playing surfaces will need to be improved,” was the summary provided by Tetley. Quite obviously, between his team’s inspection and now, his words weren’t heeded, which is why the national capital has embarrassed the country now.

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