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Thursday, January 21, 2010

World Cup 2010 respite for Kotla Stadium

World Cup respite for Kotla but no ties till Dec 2010

Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium Delhi
January 21 2010 : Choosing a diplomatic middle path in its attempt to resolve the Ferozeshah Kotla pitch-fracas fallout, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has decided to retain Delhi as a venue for the 2011 World Cup, in spite of the cancellation of the India-Sri Lanka One-dayer on Dec 27 due to unplayable conditions.

There will be no fines or penalties imposed on the venue and the world body seems to have gone along with its president David Morgan’s view that Delhi was too important to be blacklisted ahead of a World Cup.

The ICC, though, has seconded match referee Alan Hurst’s report that the pitch under consideration was clearly ‘unfit’ and subsequently there has been an agreement between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and ICC that the Kotla will not host any international games until the end of Dec 2010.

Hurst’s opinion remains the sole sticking point in the entire affair as the BCCI is likely to challenge his report on the premise that the match referee did not consult on-field umpires before rejecting the adjacent pitch offered as an alternative by Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) officials, as reported earlier by TOI.

BCCI, though, has no issues with not hosting an international game for the said period at the venue. Sources also suggested that Indian Premier League (IPL) matches would be staged as planned at the Kotla.

The venue, has, in effect, managed to evade serious sanction and the ruling is being interpreted as a ‘victory’ of sorts for the BCCI, since the cleverly-worded statement issued by the ICC on Thursday clearly refrains from using the term ‘ban’.

A BCCI source said, ‘‘We had put in a request to the ICC that as there were no matches scheduled to be held at the Kotla for a one-year period, the venue would get ample time to prepare decent pitches for the World Cup. Therefore, the submission was that there should be no ban or penalties.’’

The ICC statement put the ball in BCCI’s court, saying, ‘‘The ICC confirms that no international cricket will be played at the New Delhi ground until the end of Dec 2010. As part of its investigation, the ICC received a submission from the BCCI assuring it that no international match is scheduled and therefore no international match will be played at the ground until the end of 2010. Keeping this in mind, the ICC has decided to endorse this action on the part of BCCI as part of its concluding report.’’

In keeping with ICC norms, ‘‘the ICC pitch consultant will inspect the ground as soon as possible and oversee a programme of remedial work throughout 2010 designed to ensure the pitch returns to the standard required to host international cricket, in particular, matches in the ICC World Cup 2011,’’ the statement read.

ICC general manager (cricket) Dave Richardson, who took the final decision along with chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle, said: ‘‘We endorse the decision by the BCCI not to schedule any international cricket at the ground till December 2010, which is consistent with our own finding. we are of the view that the frequency of the misbehaving deliveries had the potential to inflict injury to the batsmen and therefore the pitch was ‘dangerous’ and should therefore be classified as ‘unfit’.

But it is also worth bearing in mind that it is the first time the Kotla has been rated as unfit, that the ground has a long history of successfully hosting international cricket and that it is scheduled to host matches at the World Cup.’’

A DDCA official said: "We endorse the position taken by BCCI. As per the BCCI calendar no international matches are scheduled here till December 2010. The association also promises to produce quality pitches for the four World Cup matches under the supervision of former Delhi cricketer Venkat Sundaram.’’

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat, on his part, seconded Morgan’s view. ‘‘There is ample time for the remedial work to be carried out ahead of next year’s World Cup. It is important that the work should be carried out and domestic cricket played on the pitch to make sure it returns to the standards required for high-level international cricket. This ground is one of the world’s iconic venues and it’s imperative it stages matches during the game’s biggest tournament World Cup."

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