“I don’t believe we should be using used pitches for World Cup semi-finals,” said Vaughan.
FORMER England captain Michael Vaughan has alleged that the International Cricket Council (ICC) wanted India in the final of the Cricket World Cup. He claimed that this motivation led to the team being allowed to play on a used pitch.
The World Cup semi-final between India and New Zealand in Mumbai on Wednesday (15) was being played on a used pitch, sparking concerns the tournament hosts had tried to manipulate conditions in their favour.
Both Daily Mail and the ESPNCricinfo website reported the match was initially supposed to be played on pitch seven, the central strip at the Wankhede Stadium, a surface unused in the group stages.
However, the game was switched to pitch six, the surface used for South Africa’s 229-run win over England on October 21, and India’s 302-run victory over Sri Lanka on November 2.
“It is a bit of a sour taste. I don’t believe we should be using used pitches for World Cup semi-finals. India are too good a team to have to worry about having to play on a used pitch,” Vaughan was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.
“Let’s not beat around the truth … the ICC want India in the final. They probably would’ve beaten New Zealand on any pitch because they’re that good and so much better than most of the other teams in the tournament. But the rest of the world will be like ‘really?’ Don’t make it so obvious.”
Meanwhile, India’s cricket legend, Sunil Gavaskar, responded to critics of the pitch choice by referring to them as ‘morons’.
“All the morons who were talking about the pitch change. Just stop. Stop taking potshots at Indian cricket. People have said a lot of things to attract eyeballs or whatever. It is all nonsense,” he is reported to have said.
“The pitch was there and even if it was changed, it was there before the toss for both the teams. It was not changed in the middle of the innings. It was not changed after the toss was done. If you are a good enough team, you play on that pitch and you win. India has done that. So stop talking about pitches.”
According to the ICC’s tournament playing conditions, the relevant ground authority — in this case the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) – “is responsible for the selection and preparation of the pitch” before any given match”.
Howver, The Mail claimed the ICC’s independent pitch consultant Andy Atkinson was frustrated by changes to pre-tournament plans.
They quoted a leaked email in which he speculated whether the pitch for Sunday’s (19) final in Ahmedabad “will be the first ever ICC CWC final to have a pitch which has been specifically chosen and prepared to their stipulation at the request of the team management and/or the hierarchy of the home nation board”.
Used pitches generally aid spinners, which could be a boon to an India side that has Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav as two of its frontline bowlers.
The semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup in England were played on fresh pitches, but used strips were provided for the semi-finals of last year’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
On Wednesday, the ICC insisted there was nothing untoward with the change in pitch at the Wankhede.
“Changes to planned pitch rotations are common towards the end of an event of this length, and has already happened a couple of times,” said a spokesperson.
“This change was made on the recommendation of the venue curator in conjunction with our host.
“The ICC independent pitch consultant was apprised of the change and has no reason to believe the pitch won’t play well.”
Australia captain Pat Cummins said Wednesday he had confidence in the integrity of the ICC’s pitch process.
“Yeah, I saw that (the report)…obviously ICC have an independent pitch curator who manages that so I’m sure they are all over making sure it’s fair for both teams,” Cummins said.
“So far this tournament (on pitches) that we’ve played on I’ve not seen any issue.”
(with inputs from AFP)