University students to help PCB lay ‘bouncy’ pitches

Saturday, June 16, 2007

KARACHI: After experimenting with the idea of getting foreign help, Pakistani cricket officials are now looking towards home-grown experts in a bid to prepare lively pitches around the country, writes Khalid Hussain.

Shafqat Naghmi, Pakistan Cricket Board’s Chief Operating Officer, told ‘The News’ that a local engineering university has offered to assist the PCB in its plan to lay fast and bouncy tracks in several of the country’s cricket grounds.

“We have accepted a proposal from an engineering university which has offered to help us prepare bouncy pitches,”
Naghmi said.

He said that in return the university administration has requested the Board to sponsor a thesis on the making of cricket pitches.
“We will sponsor the university programme because it might be helpful for us,”
he said.

The PCB is planning to have 90 ‘bouncy’ pitches in grounds all over Pakistan by October this year in a bid to allow hundreds of Test, international and domestic cricketers to train and play on more challenging surfaces.

Pakistani batsmen generally struggle against teams like Australia, South Africa and England on away tours mainly because they are not used to playing on fast and bouncy tracks.

In the past, national cricket officials have tried to get foreign help for preparation of lively tracks at home but failed to achieve the desired results.

“Our problem is that in Pakistan the soil has more clay content than sand and that combination makes it sure that the wickets are soft and offer little bounce,”
said Naghmi.

“The proposal we have received from the university says that they can find a workable solution for this problem provided the Board released funds for some research work they intend to carry out,”
he added.

Naghmi said that the PCB is planning to issue guidelines to local pitch curators one of which would be to avoid shaving off the grass from wickets for domestic matches.
“On the kind of surfaces we have here in Pakistan, you should have some grass on the wicket to make it sure that it doesn’t become a batting paradise,”
he added.

However, Naghmi made it clear that the decision to shave the grass or keep it ahead of international matches would that be of the team management.

He was confident that the project aimed at preparing wickets with significant bounce in various cricket grounds will be completed in the next four months.

The Board wants to lay new pitches in ten grounds in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad and Quetta.

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