Two weeks ago, I wrote what I then felt was a story of hope. Or, perhaps, what I then felt was the story that should be told.
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QPCC an example for the region
The West Indies came to Trinidad last week, trailing 0-1 in the current Test series against New Zealand. In the opening Test in Jamaica they produced a pitch that many of the players and fans would like to forget. On a dead track, the West Indies lost the game by 186 runs. The pitch was sporting for one day and New Zealand won the toss and was able to take first strike on the pitch where first use was key. The West Indies lost the match and it had more to do with the toss, rather than their actual play. Whoever batted first on that pitch, had a huge advantage.
Fast forward to Trinidad and an excellent Test match was played and many of the cricket gurus described it as a ‘sporting pitch.’ There was something there for everyone who was willing to put in the work. I want to single out head groundsman Ron Faria for praise because at the end of the game, no batsman, fast bowler or spinner would have looked at it hard. Even the wicketkeepers would have been proud because New Zealand keeper BJ Watling had no problems batting even on the fifth day remaining 66 not out and his opposite number Denesh Ramdin got the ball coming off the pitch nicely into his big gloves as he took five catches in the second innings.
The pitch was left with some grass and it held up beautifully for the entire match. Queen’s Park authorities led by president Deryck Murray must also take credit for the bold move they made in transforming this pitch, which was seen in years gone by as a spinner’s paradise. A couple seasons ago, they decided to change the nature of this pitch by leaving grass on it. In the beginning when they started the experiment, players could not understand because sometimes the pitch was actually green in colour—such was the extent that they left grass on it.
As time went by and the grass grew properly on the square, their root structure developed well and now it holds the turf together nicely. Others in the region must start the process of improving their pitches. My hope is that we get another excellent strip in Barbados for the deciding Test this coming week. The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) needs to put a capable curator in charge of all the pitches in the Caribbean. He must then partner with the officials at the Soil Sciences Department at the University of the West Indies, so that research can be done on the different soil types in the region.
You locate where the good pitches are and in this case you can look at QPCC and run tests on the soil and if it comes to a point where you need to import the soil from T&T, well do that and remake some of the pitches around the region. One might say that this would lead to similar pitches across the region but this is not really the case. The natural environment in each territory would then have an influence which would lead to a slight change but the end result would always be pitches of better standard than what we have.