– curators need support to produce better pitches
Georgetown, Guyana – Bowlers are likely to be encouraged by news coming out of Guyana. Following the WICB commissioned Curators Workshop, curators from around the region have given a firm commitment to prepare pitches for regional and international cricket which will be more consistent and ‘livelier’.
The two day workshop was facilitated by ICC Pitch Consultant Andy Atkinson along with Chairman of the WICB Pitch and Field Committee Gregory Shillingford and WICB Director of Cricket Tony Howard and was held at the Guyana National Stadium.
Shillingford said he was enthused by the commitment of the curators to prepare better cricket pitches but noted that there needed to be care against overuse which was identified as a problem area.
"The workshop identified that the curators, stadium managers and ground authorities must be more circumspect in the use of the grounds so as to allow for proper preparation of the best pitches for regional and international cricket," Shillingford said.
"An exciting initiative is that the workshop has resulted in a commitment to have pre-season meetings with curators, stadium managers, the WICB and the West Indies Team Head Coach to plan for the season ahead and have a clear understanding from the Head Coach of his thinking and the type of pitches which would be required, especially for international cricket," explained Shillingford who is also the President of the Leeward Islands Cricket Association and a WICB Director.
"The workshop also reaffirmed the need for ground authorities to support the curators with the provision of resources to get the best pitches required," Shillingford added.
"Andy brought a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to the workshop and the curators themselves shared valuable information based on their experience of working with different soil types in their respective territories," Shillingford said.
Atkinson also echoed the need to guard against overuse of the pitches which is what he said mitigated against having proper grass coverage. The ICC Pitch Consultant also said that the ground authorities must work towards providing the necessary support, in the form of equipment and resources, to curators for them to be able to properly execute their roles.
"A lot of times what you find is too much cricket being played, especially at the international venues and this causes a problem for the curators who cannot then maintain the grass cover," Atkinson explained
"The scheduling needs to be more sympathetic so as to allow the grass to grow and one of the things we stressed during the workshop was the importance of protecting the pitches for international matches and regional tournaments," Atkinson said.
"What would help the curators in this regard is that they need to know, well in advance what cricket will be played at their venue for at least the next 12 months so that they can put in place a rotation plan for their pitches," Atkinson outlined.
Atkinson also highlighted that good pitches all over the world had a covering of grass as a critical element but that this was absent in the Caribbean. ‘Grass’, ‘bounce’ and ‘carry’ were three elements which were discussed extensively throughout the workshop.
He said the workshop, which was opened by Guyana Cricket Board President Ramsay Ali, was very successful and there was eager participation by all of the more than 30 participants. He complimented the WICB for taking the initiative to host the workshop and the commitment from the Board to support the curators in their efforts to prepare better pitches.
Atkinson did several presentations, including on rolling, watering, ground maintenance and other areas.
He said that discussions have commenced on the WICB examining a "warrant of fitness" system for grounds which will help to ensure that grounds are maintained to a suitable standard for international and regional cricket.
The Guyana National Stadium is one of four proposed venues which will be used for the Regional Super50 next month and during that tournament players and fans should begin to see a greater level of consistency in the quality of the pitches.
Atkinson has inspected the pitches at a number of venues in Guyana and, apart from his facilitation of the workshop, has been advising the curators as they prepare pitches for the Regional Super50. He will remain in Guyana to supervise the preparation of all the practice and match venues for the tournament.
Atkinson hopes that once all the necessary support is provided, West Indian curators will be able to produce consistently better pitches for the 2012 international season.