General Secretary of Queen’s Park Cricket Club (QPCC) Colin Murray has hit back at claims made by former West Indies fast bowling legend Andy Roberts that the bowlers on show in the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) were made to look 10 times better than they are because of the state of the pitches.
Roberts speaking on the Jojo Radio programme in Antigua said: “I know we blame COVID for everything but this is not one of the things we should try to blame on COVID, we are making bowlers look 10 times as good as they are and especially in the spin department.
“You knew about three or four months ago that you’re going to have this tournament in Trinidad and Tobago, one country, but you have two different facilities that you are going to play at so arrangements should be made to get all the pitches up to a certain standard. When I say all, I mean the entire square, because you can’t just use two pitches for the number of matches you are going to be playing on them.”
The highly respected cricket commentator Murray told Guartdian Media Sports on Monday that: “We only knew that the tournament was going to take place for sure in Trinidad and Tobago one month in advance. This is when we got the official word from the government. We were preparing as if it was going to be played here anyway. However, there was a lot of rain about and when this happens you have slow pitches. Yes, I agree that one or two pitches turned more than normal but the rain had a great impact on the nature of the pitches that were produced. There may have been a slight error of judgement on the part of those who prepare the pitches but what Sir Andy should be saying that is the batting was poor. Is he trying to say that spinners like Mujeeb Ur Rahman (16 wickets), the second most in the tournament, Sandeep Lamachhane, Imran Tahir (15 wickets), Sunil Narine, Fawad Ahmed (13 wickets), Kesrick Williams (13 wickets) and Rashid Khan are not world-class bowlers?
The top bowler of the 2020 edition was New Zealand's Scott Kuggeleijn, 28, of the St Lucia Zouks, the losing finalist who captured 17 wickets with his right-arm fast-medium bowling.
Murray who captained the West Indies Under-19 team in the late 70s asked the question: “How come some batsmen were able to score runs freely? How come some batsmen found the going good when they settled down and built an innings? The majority of the batsmen played poorly, they were playing too frequently across the line and paid the price. “
Murray was also critical of the foreign element at the tournament. “I think that the quality of the international players that they are bringing in are not up to mark and it showed. This is another factor that one has to take into account and this must be looked at.”
Former minister of Sport Manohar Ramsaran who is the pitch consultant at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy also lent his voice to the situation. “At the BLCA what people don’t understand is that we are affected by the closeness of the Gulf of Paria. Although the drainage at the facility is world-class, the water table of the general area of high because the sea is closeby. So when we have rain at the facility who get the top 12 inches or so draining wonderfully well and play gets back on in no time. However, the general area underneath that is still wet because of the high water table and this leads to the pitch playing slow.
“I thought we did a good job in getting the pitch to play as well as it did give the circumstances and I too would say that the batsmen were found wanting on the day. The heavy moisture we have to contend with will lead to the pitches being on the slower side. The top appears hard which all batsmen love as the ball comes nicely unto the bat. However, just below it is soft and hence the reason we can’t have the fastest pitch.”