Watered-down pitch raises no eyebrows
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) media committee chairman Jalal Yunus yesterday confirmed that there was an issue with watering the side wickets of the Basin Reserve during the first Test involving Bangladesh and hosts New Zealand.
He also said that the matter has been resolved after a meeting with ICC match referee Javagal Srinath.
“The ICC match referee Javagal Srinath and his officials, including Chris Brown, had a meeting with the Bangladesh team management. In the meeting Chris Brown has admitted the inadvertent mistake and he was apologetic. The Bangladesh team management accepted that in the true spirit of the game and the matter was resolved there,” Yunus told this correspondent over phone yesterday.
He however said that he was not in a position to provide details of what actually happened after the fourth day's play when Bangladesh were reduced to 66 for three in the second innings.
It was learnt that the ground staff watered the second-closest wicket up the slope of the pitch where the first Test was played, much to the dismay of Bangladesh team management including coach Chandika Hathurusingha. And surprisingly it took place in front of the fourth official of the game Chris Brown, who was well aware of the agreement between the two teams that the areas covering the two wickets either side of the pitch on which the game will be played cannot be watered during the whole course of the five days of the match.
It was also learnt that Bangladesh took the issue, a breach of agreement, to match referee and former India pace bowler Srinath after the fourth day's play.
Bangladesh came out to bat on the fifth day and were bundled out for 160 against a hostile home pace attack that extracted considerable bounce from the wicket. Bangladesh actually played badly in their second innings and eventually lost the game by seven wickets despite scoring a massive first innings total of 595 for eight declared.
Although poor shot selection coupled with injury to two key players -- opener Imrul Kayes and skipper Mushfiqur Rahim -- played a big part in Bangladesh's stunning defeat, the watering issue has certainly added a bit of spice in a tense Test marked by excessive short-pitched deliveries from both sides, especially from New Zealand pace bowler Neil Wagner.
We are not sure whether it helped the bowling team in any way on the fifth morning, but the argument behind that was protecting the pitch from any infiltration of water underneath it.
This is something not new in cricket but had it happened with a top team in the world it would have created a lot of noise and the match referee and his associates would have been under fire for not adhering to the standard procedure for which they are being paid.
The role of the BCB is also too soft in such a serious issue. Nobody had expected them to make a lot of hue and cry but total silence on their part is inexplicable.