PCB plan to install ninety ‘bouncy’ pitches by October

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

KARACHI: Pakistani officials are planning to have 90 ‘bouncy’ pitches in cricket grounds all over the country by October this year in a bid to allow hundreds of Test, international and domestic cricketers to train and play on more challenging surfaces.

A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official told ‘The News’ that the project is aimed at preparing batsmen who are equally comfortable batting on fast and bouncy tracks as they are on friendlier pitches. He said that the project to have wickets with significant bounce in various cricket grounds has already started and should be completed within the next four months.

“One of the key problems we have identified in our (national) team is our batsmen’s inability to give their best on bouncy surfaces in places like South Africa, Australia or even England,” said Shafqat Hussain Naghmi, PCB’s Chief Operating Officer.

“The basic reason behind it is that we don’t have wickets in Pakistan that offer much bounce or pace and the batsmen are too used to playing on placid pitches. This has to change and one way to do it is to have bouncy wickets for both matches and training all over the country.”

Naghmi said that the PCB has prepared a plan to have nine pitches each in ten cricket grounds of the country. He said that none of the grounds selected is a Test venue. According to Naghmi new wickets would be laid in grounds in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad and Quetta.

“We should have 90 bouncy pitches in our country by September or October this year,”
he said. Naghmi said that work has already begun at five of the grounds as the other five venues selected for the project are in use for different competitions and training purposes.

“We are sure that with the help of these new wickets, our batsmen would be better prepared for foreign tours in the future.”
Naghmi said that Pakistan’s ambition is to become the world’s top team and it cannot be accomplished without achieving success away from home.

“Our teams, especially the batsmen are generally very good playing at home but are unable to do that well in away tours. We cannot expect our team to overtake sides like Australia or South Africa unless our players start doing well on foreign tours on a regular basis.”

Naghmi revealed that the PCB is pondering over a novel idea to keep a check on whether the ground staffs of the country’s cricket venues are performing their duties properly.
“I have this plan of installing cameras at our different venues all over the country through which we can see live via the internet, in Lahore, the work being done by the ground staff in different cities.”

Naghmi, a career bureaucrat, said that he floated this idea while working as the Director General Passports and Immigration in a bid to improve the working of its various branches.
“The idea can also be implemented to monitor our various cricket facilities,”
said Naghmi.
“There have been plans to improve our pitches in the past but were unable to meet much success because the ground staffs did not do their job properly. By having cameras installed at all the grounds we can fully monitor whether somebody is taking care of the pitches or not.”

He said that the idea seems feasible but would only be implemented by the Board after discussing it with its IT consultants.
“To me, it seems fairly feasible to have cameras installed in about 15 grounds of the country. It won’t cost much but can prove to be very useful.”
Naghmi said that the proposals for the improvement of the overall domestic structure would be submitted to the PCB ad-hoc committee which meets in Bhurban on June 16.

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