Vantage point

Monday, March 24, 2008

About Venues

I noticed a couple of things about the venues for the upcoming India-South Africa test series.

SA have never played at Chepauk. And they go into the first test without a single practice game. Their coach and captain are making optimistic noises, saying they have recently played and done well in Bangladesh and Pakistan, but really, that is a foolish response. I hope for their sake that they don't believe that all subcontinental tracks and conditions are basically the same. Madras in March can totally sap you, as can Ahmedabad. The conditions on the peninsula at the onset of summer are nothing like the conditions in Pakistan and Bangladesh in autumn and winter.

And even if we leave the weather/conditions aside for a while, it is the Chepauk pitch. The Chepauk pitch is unique not just in the subcontinent, but in the world. I can not think of any other pitch that is as egalitarian to all cricketer constituencies as Chepauk. Pacers, spinners, grafters, swashbucklers, all are rewarded by the pitch. It is not your typical Indian featherbed. SA have never played there and I doubt if they really understand the nature of the pitch. Are they ready for a pitch that keeps the contest alive and provides twists and turns right through the last session, especially in conditions which can sap every ounce of H2O from their bodies?

Then there is Ahmedabad. Why the hell are SA playing at Ahmedabad? Is my memory failing me, or did SA vow never to play at Motera? I remember that after Srinath packed them off for a little over 100 in 1996, thanks mainly to a minefield of a pitch, they cribbed like babies. They cribbed about the pitch, the outfield, the facilities and the crowd, pledging never to play there. And yet this time, a test has been scheduled at Motera and not a peep from them?