Pune: On the fourth morning of the inaugural Test match played at the Maharashtra Cricket Association MCA) Stadium, cricket fans were queuing up outside the ticket counter for their refunds.
In the spring of 2017, Australia had recorded a thumping 333-run wicket over India, which snapped the home team’s run of 19-unbeaten Tests.
The drab MCA wicket drew manifested flak from the Indian team-management as the team scores read 105 and 107 in the first and second innings respectively.
The designated ICC referee for the match, Chris Broad submitted a report to ICC, rating the Pune pitch as poor.
To make matters worse, MCA’s pitch curator Pandurang Salgaoncar was seen giving inside information to reporters disguised as bookies, in a sting operation.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then, and the MCA seems to have learnt the lessons hard way.
Firstly, they had to partly refund the season ticket holders after the Test match against Australia ended in just three days.
Secondly, the pitch curator fiasco and MCA’s alleged meddling in the way the pitch was prepared came back to haunt them in the worst possible manner.
Since then according to the altered rules, the pitch for the India-South Africa Test-starting on October 10 will be prepared under the watchful eyes of neutral curators.
Riyaz Bagwan, the secretary and the sole functional elected member of the MCA, informed that the BCCI curators will start working on the strip a week ahead of the Test match.
“ Last time we faced some unwanted issues regarding the pitch, but this time around I’m sure there would be no hindrance and the Test match would go on smoothly,” Bagwan said.
Incidentally, veteran curator Daljit Singh has retired as BCCI’s chief curator after 22 years overseeing grounds and pitches in India and the BCCI are yet to confirm his replacement.
Bagwan also allayed fears of a financial flounder due to the Committee of Administrators (CoA) stopping the MCA’s funding in 2017 and Bank of Maharashtra taking “symbolic possession” of the MCA Stadium in 2018 citing failure to repay the dues.
“Cricket activities will not be disrupted due to the financial doldrums of the past and organising of the Test match would go ahead in the best possible manner,” Bagwan concluded.