Thursday, January 19, 2006

HOME ADVANTAGE IS LEGIT

Finally, someone(Mukul Kesavan, Cricinfo Magazine) has the courage to defend the performances of teams like India on home turf which is something that is routinely derided by the media. Actually, a win is a win and much is made out of the 'poor' record of India abroad. It is also sad that the records of players is also put in that kind of a perspective. This is unfair when desi media also joins chorus with the likes of Peter Roebuck in calling the pitches in India to be unfit for 'good' cricket.


The last time Australia came to India the test at Mumbai was won by the home team although the tourists had the series already in their pocket. Predictably, the home team won with the help of spinners relishing the conditions. The Indians also happened to play the Aussie bowlers well on a pitch where good strokeplay was difficult. Roebuck went on for days calling the pitch something where the ball jumped like fat on a hot fan. It is interesting to note that a non-regular bowler like Michael Clarke got 6 Indian wickets.


If a Ricky Ponting fails on the Indian wickets, as in 2001, it is put to badluck or worse bad wickets. But if an Indian batsmen fails to negotiate the short pitched stuff, then it is put to poor technique to worse to the lack of commitment. If an Indian spinner fails in Australia or England, then fun is made of his record. But the same yardstick is not applied when a pace bowler fails to deliver in India. What is detestable is the total unanimity with which Indian media and the so-called tellyexperts call for the immediate revamping of the pitches in India.


People fail to recognise that cricket is not the only sport nor India is the only country that seeks to take advantage of the familiar conditions. Davis Cup matches are played on surfaces which benefit the home country. India contested a final which was played in Sweden. Typically, the event was held on clay which was meat and drink for the home team which had most of the best in their ranks. Of course, grass would not have mattered for the likes of Mats Wilander and company. But then the Swedes did not take any chance with Vijay and Ramesh Krishnan being good players of grass. Every effort is made in football to make the visiting team uncomfortable.


It is no doubt that a good team has to win on all surfaces and a good players has to score runs and take wickets on all kinds of pitches. There are very few teams in the history of cricket who have done this. The West Indies teams led by Clive Lloyd was the one team feared by their opponents at home and away. There are very few players who have done consistently well under all conditions.


I don't agree with the view that poor umpiring is something that takes the gloss off wins in a home series. All umpires in the past have displayed various degrees of prejudice and bias and so the scores even out for all the teams. Now with the neutral umpires that is a non-issue.

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