Champions Trophy 2013 – Dry English pitches lose out on swinging deliveries

As India routs Pakistan in its third straight successful outing at the ICC Champions Trophy (CT) 2013, the Indian cricket team evidently proves that its winning streak this season has been no stroke of luck.

With pitch and ground conditions favoring sub-continent teams (read India), more than other participants, the championship being held in England appears to be more of a domestic affair for Dhoni’s men, played on comparable tracks back home. New Picture

Has India’s fortunes been aided by pitches that are more of dead turners than regular English seamy bases this time?

With the way batsmen are hitting the Kookaburra ball through the line, confirms the reservations about the bat getting the better off  bowlers.

Those who are passionately following the Champions Trophy on televisoin, must spot the difference in the amount of swing in comparison to previous junctures. The qualms have been exerted, though subtly, by many cricket experts including Sunil Gavaskar and Harsha Bhogle, about the archetypal English pitches going the sub-continent way. This makes work for the men in blue much easier — without taking any credit away from the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and others in the ranks.

The erratic and damp weather conditions in England have always maintained the tradition of supporting seam bowling. Conducive conditions for swing bowling can be accredited to the geographical assignment of the country. Surrounded by water bodies on each side and high latitude setting, England makes way for strong winds throughout the year.

The drainage system in England has been updated recently to be the world’s very best, although it was always well laid out. Anyone who knows a bit about the technicalities of the system will know that as the drainage system increases in operational efficiency, ground starts losing more on wetness and pitch’s underside also loses out on dampness. The retention rate of moisture reduces notably. Therefore, English pitches are too dry this time and puffs of dust rising from the pitches at times elucidate the trepidation.

Nonetheless, green grass is still trying to hold together the top soil on pitch but not able to provide the rub of green for bowlers relying on swing. Even Busvaneshwar Kumar, frontline Indian seamer, who backs on swing more than pace, has expressed his concerns with the disparate English pitches.

Therefore, comfortable bounce (though young Indian turks are well equipped with pulls and hooks) and minimum lateral swing has helped the Indian fortunes noticeably. The way Indians have scored (in all the encounters) with a run rate of almost 6.4 clearly shows they haven’t been tested adequately contrasting to the previous appearances in England.

Finding no assistance from the pitches, even the home team had to resort to some illegitimate means to create some artificial swing (reverse swing) through their nails —- if the recent ball tampering incident in the series during the England–Sri Lanka encounter turns out to be true after investigations.

Even Australia have to watch out for the conditions as they will be playing England in their backyard in the coming Ashes and therefore, need to be prepared accordingly, considering the transforming face of the English pitches which are no longer seamer friendly, at least for some time now. Nevertheless, Englishmen can only quote the age old excuse that the current batch of Kookaburra balls lacks swing and end the discussion with a single masterstroke.

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