3Ws Oval loose stroke
NATION Associate Editor (Sports) Haydn Gill says substandard pitches at the 3Ws Oval during the WICB regional four-day competition will not develop West Indies cricket.
CRICKET LOVERS would not have been happy with what they saw in the West Indies Cricket Board regional four-day final at the 3Ws Oval last weekend.
It can’t be a good advertisement for the game in the region when the showpiece match of the season ends inside two days without much of a spectacle.
It was bordering on laughable. Even the Market Vendor found it funny.
In some ways, the swift finish to the contest once more underlined some of the shortcomings of Caribbean cricket.
A closer examination of everything that unfolded suggests, however, that the debacle was not merely because of the skills, technique and patience of the 22 players in the match.
There is no doubt in my mind that the final finished less than halfway of the intended duration because of the quality of the pitch.
It simply wasn’t up to scratch for first-class cricket, a view also shared by one of the players who used the conditions to his advantage in helping Jamaica walk over the hosts, Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC), to capture a fourth successive first-class title.
Leg-spinner Odean Brown, who captured seven wickets in a Man-Of-The-Match performance, was on the mark in describing the surface as “poor”.
Not a single batsman managed a half-century in the match, and CCC, the team that topped the standings in the preliminaries, could muster scores of only 112 and 122 on a pitch that offered the spinners generous assistance by way of considerable turn and bounce from very early.
An ideal pitch for a four-day match is one that will contain some moisture in the early stages to offer fast bowlers a little help, will settle down as the match progresses to the second day when it should be at its best for batting before deteriorating towards the end of the match when the spinners can expect to make an impact.
The pitches at the 3Ws Oval have hardly been of such character throughout the season in which we have consistently seen batsmen at a disadvantage by having to battle for survival on surfaces that weren’t conducive for attractive strokeplay.
In the final, 23 of the 31 wickets fell to the spinners through a variety of methods. My count showed that nine of the victims fell to catches close in from defensive strokes, three had their defences breached and more than ten fell to loose strokes, including three who gave catches in the deep.
In six matches at the ground this season, four did not go into the last day. Additionally, there were ten totals of less than 175 and only two of more than 300. Those are revealing statistics.
While I appreciate that as the home team, one would want to have conditions that suit the strengths of your team, I feel that we have to look at the broader picture and ask if such spin-friendly pitches can help develop the game in the region.
I hope the WICB observed what happened at the 3Ws Oval this season and will have its grounds committee work closely with the folks at the Cave Hill Campus to ensure that there is a change in the character of the surfaces.
Until that happens, cricket will always be the loser.