Mumbai: In yet another bitter controversy in the run up to the much-anticipated India-England series, the visitors have been told that the BCCI would not make available the stumps for the three-day practice match to be played in Mumbai from 30 October.
The BCCI’s Technical Committee formally made an announcement in this regard at the Brabourne Stadium. With no stumps available for the match it effectively rules out bowled, LBW, stumped, run-out and the inevitable knocking down of the wickets by Steve Finn while running into bowl.
The Technical Committee, however, did not specify as to how the umpires will formally announce the closure of play after each session. But it is learnt that the players would have to intuitively understand that the play is over when the umpires start moving in the general direction of the dressing room.
It is likely that the players will leave their footwear near the umpire to notionally signify the stumps. In the event, it is being debated whether the ICC rules allow ‘current’ in run-out situations. (‘Current’ is a concept borrowed from streetside cricket, and it essentially makes it possible to effect a run-out with the player collecting the ball without having to dislodge the stumps but just maintaining leg contact with them. Salim Yousuf, the former Pakistan Wicket-Keeper was the one who introduced it to international cricket. Now Kumara Sangakkara actively pursues it).
The decision of the Indian cricket board to provide no stumps is expected to lead to more rancour in the English camp, which already feels done in by the fact that the India A team does not feature a full-time spinner, even though the Indians have been vehemently pointing to the presence of Irfan Pathan and Vinay Kumar, who at their current pace can be technically called military medium spin.
Though the BCCI did not give out any official reason for its move to not provide stumps for the warm-up game, it is widely believed to be an extension of its strategy to further tactically inconvenience the English batsmen before the Test series.
The BCCI also nixed the possibility of the visitors bringing to the match their own set of stumps. ‘That is technically not allowed at all. Their stumps will not have the one thing that is so important for the proper conduct of international matches: The BCCI-approved sponsor’s logo’.
The contentious decision of the BCCI immediately drew a volley of protests from the usual suspects. Former English captain and current moaner in chief Michael Vaughan said he felt stumped at the no-stump plan.
‘No stumps against England in the A team warm-up game???? Very wicket, I mean, very wicked,’ he tweeted. ‘From a spinning wicket to spinning out the wickets totally. This is taking visitors disadvantage to a new level.’
Vaughan was not the only one to slam the BCCI. David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd too joined the chorus. ‘Stumps out India? It’s a total bail out. Yawn, I’m off to Bedfordshire,’ he said in his tweet.
On the other hand, the view from the Indian side was on expected lines. Former offie Shivlal Yadav, when media personnel sought his opinion (even though it is quite conceivable that there is not even a single reader who would be keen to know Shivlal’s view on this matter or any other) pointed out that the BCCI was well within its right to keep the English team on tenterhooks. ‘There are many precedents to such tactics. For instance, when the Indian cricket team toured New Zealand under Sourav Ganguly the hosts did not provide any formal pitch for the tour. The entire series was played on damp grass alone’.
Meanwhile, the Indian Board itself seems to be on tenterhooks as to whether the Indian cricket team’s players who did duty for their respective teams in the CLT20 matches would be available for selection. ‘We are in a bind,’ a BCCI spokesperson said. ‘Nobody is aware whether the CLT20 is over or still running. We will know that the tournament has ended only when the players return from South Africa.’
On the commentary front, a new tiff has broken out between the Indian cricket board and the Sky TV. The BCCI, it is said, is insisting that the Sky team apart from using the visuals produced by the hosts but also include the voice of Ravi Shastri whenever he is on air.
(Disclaimer: According to late reports, the BCCI has also decided not to make available the sightscreens for England’s warm up game)