The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) proposal to bring in Australian drop-in pitches has been postponed. The board is now expected to employ a consultant who will first advise it on whether having the Australian-made pitches in Pakistan is realistic. According to ESPNcricinfo, the PCB would likely bring soil from Australia and sow it across numerous locations as part of a study.
PCB had initially planned on having two ready-made pitches as a short-term option to assist Pakistan in preparing for the forthcoming T20 World Cup, which will be contested in Australia in October-November. It was also part of a larger effort to improve the quality of pitches around the nation, which was a significant pillar in Ramiz Raja’s leadership.
The contractor assigned to import the drop-in pitches has been requested to postpone the acquisition, which would have been a long procedure that may have taken up to ten months. The PCB had inked an agreement with the investment firm Arif Habib Group, which was to shoulder the PKR 37 crore (about USD 2 million) purchase cost. That money will very certainly be spent to develop pitches.
Ramiz has been vocal about numerous concerns that he regards as hurting Pakistan cricket since taking over as PCB chairman. Pitches have become his top priority. “Until pitches are fixed, we aren’t going anywhere as it’s the heartbeat of cricket,” he told ESPNcricinfo in December.
“It is Ramiz’s vision and mission to improve the quality of the pitches at all international and domestic cricket venues,” a PCB spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo. “In this regard, we’ve hired an Australian expert on drop-in pitches as a consultant, who will tour Pakistan in April and visit all potential venues for a complete assessment and evaluation before suggesting next steps.
“As we don’t have experts on drop-in pitches, we need to have feasibility about everything around it. There are several critical elements to the success of this initiative, including weather conditions, usage of the venues, soil requirements and overall design and outlook of the venue.”
Pitches have been in the spotlight for their flat, docile nature during Pakistan’s ongoing Test series against Australia. The surface at Rawalpindi, in particular, was heavily criticised when only 14 wickets fell over five days of a drawn first Test, and it eventually received a “below average” grade from the ICC.