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Dear Editor: Is CWI conceding home advantage by selecting pitches to suit visiting cricket teams?

“[…] I had zero issue with the pitch in Guyana. My main problem is when we choose to play there. 

“We can’t put sub-continent teams to play on pitches that are slow, low, and spin-friendly, as that is playing right into their hands. They play on those pitches every day back home…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the Cricket West Indies’ selection of venues for international home matches was submitted to Wired868 by Choy Aping:

Photo: Bangladesh swept the West Indies in three ODIs in Guyana this month.

Is Cricket West Indies’ (CWI) scheduling of venues for international games taking away our home advantage?

Why are we scheduling sub-continent teams to play on pitches that traditionally assist spinners like Guyana and Trinidad?

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An argument can be made that those pitches never affected our ability to win games against such teams ‘back in the days’. Similarly, one can argue that our players today lack the ability of our players in years gone by.

In light of West Indies’ recent humiliating One Day International (ODI) series defeat to Bangladesh on an arguably below-par Providence pitch—one that suits the opposition more than the home team—there is a raging debate amongst Caribbean fans as it relates to pitches and our batsmen’s ability.

Are our batsmen ill-prepared to play on our pitches? Is the CWI failing to prepare pitches to suit our players?

Photo: West Indies pacer Romario Shepherd (left) in action agains Bangladesh.
(via CWI Media)

Should we prepare faster pitches for our regional competition, so as to better prepare our players for international cricket?

Or should we leave the pitches as they are and force our players to learn the hard way—on these slow, low pitches?

My take is that it is to our players’ benefit if we can prepare and maintain a diverse variety of pitches in different territories around the Caribbean, which should better produce players who are able to compete in a range of international conditions.

For this reason, while others complained, I had zero issue with the pitch in Guyana. My main problem is when we choose to play there. 

Photo: Bangladesh completed their 3-0 ODI sweep of West Indies in Guyana on 16 July 2022.
(via CWI Media)

We can’t put sub-continent teams to play on pitches that are slow, low, and spin-friendly, as that is playing right into their hands. They play on those pitches every day back home.

If we were to schedule matches there against England, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa though, while they are of course better teams than us, we would at least be taking them out of their comfort zones. 

Yes, they would still beat us. But, unlike the subcontinent teams, their batsmen are accustomed to bouncier pitches with grass and would struggle on slow, low spinning tracks.
Similarly, sub-continent teams are less effective on the faster pitches.

It begs the question: is the CWI prioritising gate receipts over placing our team in the best position it can to win games—or at least be competitive?

Photo: Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Ricky Skerritt.

The Caribbean is one of the unique places in the world where we simultaneously have some of the fastest (Barbados/Jamaica) and slowest pitches (Guyana/Trinidad)  in cricket. All that is needed is to educate our curators appropriately, with the CWI taking more oversight on preparation.

The change in climate over the past 30 years or so has probably impacted our ability to prepare and maintain fast pitches using the old methods. Therefore we probably need a more scientific or open-minded approach to the preparation of pitches today—even if it means some new faces on the job.

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