Tamil-Nadu skipper Dinesh Karthik recently raised his voice for expressing displeasure over conducting Ranji Trophy matches in neutral venues.
Talking to Wisden India, Kartik said, “The Ranji Trophy home and away concept should be brought back instead of neutral venues. I think they should do away with the toss. If they can do that, it will bring a balance to both the teams, the quality of wickets that are going to be prepared, and it will also be good to play in front of whatever home support. Even if it’s 200 to 300 people, you know they’re cheering for you.”
He further elaborated, “Absolutely, the visiting team should get the priority on what they want to do. That will ensure that you play on good wickets where the toss doesn’t become a big issue. If there is a bit of moisture on the wicket, the visiting team is under pressure to decide whether they want to bat or bowl first. Whereas if you prepare a horrible wicket, you know what the visiting team will want to do, and you are under pressure as the home team.”
Karthik wanted India to cut down the ‘tradition’ to keep pace with times, he said, “It’s just a tradition. In India, we still have tea. Tea was brought in those days in England because it was cold and the English players like tea. These are traditions we’ve been following over a period of time. It’s fine to have tea but I think we can do away with the toss. Removal of the toss will make home associations more aware of the fact that they will be playing when it’s tougher. It brings a lot of balance to both the teams and I’m sure that kind of hard (difficult) wickets where matches get over in two-three days might reduce a lot.”
The BCCI had scheduled some matches on the neutral venues for the 2016-17 season and because of that a large number of Ranji matches finished within two or three days. However, Karthik has played 153 first-class matches and he feels that the neutral venues tilted the balance in favor of batsmen. He said, “I feel the number of 300s that happened in domestic cricket this year was too many. I think there were about five or six 300s and it goes to show that sometimes they’ve played on tracks that are suited to bat.”
He also added, “Personally, I feel the home and away concept is a very good system. It is just about the state association being honest in their intent while preparing the wicket. The pitches have to be made correctly and reported correctly. If that happens then you don’t have to shift any matches away from home.“
Karthik also told Wisden India that curators in some venues don’t consider preparing a good pitch. He said, “In some venues, so much depends on the toss. You look at the results of those venues and it’s always the team winning the toss who has won the match (or taken the first-innings lead). That is because people aren’t bothered about preparing a good pitch or having conditions in shape for a neutral match.”
Tamil Nadu skipper Abhinav Mukund also feels that playing on neutral venues breaks down there continuity. He said, “I don’t think anyone actually is bothered about the wickets being prepared. Everyone’s playing it safe, which is why people are scoring more than 1000 runs, 1500 runs and I don’t see many spinners coming into play at all. I don’t like this concept mainly because of the fact that there’s no continuity. You play throughout the year in one condition — it’s really important to play at home. These are the kind of things you grow up with as a cricketer.”