BCCI slaps down Warne over IPL pitch row

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has dismissed criticism by Australian spin great Shane Warne over the playing surface selected for a crunch Indian Premier League game his team played this week.

Warne, captain of the Rajasthan Royals, had hinted at foul play over a decision to change the wicket for a home match against Chennai Super Kings in Jaipur earlier this week from the one used in previous games.

“It’s strange for the first time in four years we were told we are to play on end wicket and it was prepared completely differently,” Warne wrote on his Twitter account after his team crashed to a 63-run defeat.

The previous track had generally been slow and turning, which favoured Rajasthan’s spin-heavy attack that had helped the team notch up four home victories before Monday’s game.

The Chennai Super Kings franchise is owned by N Srinivasan, who is the secretary of the powerful BCCI.

The sacked former head of the IPL, Lalit Modi, suggested on Twitter that the pitch change “shows clearly how small things like a pitch selection can affect a game can be used by the powers that be. And it goes unnoticed.”

Others have accused Warne of seeking to switch the focus away from his side’s poor performance.

Reacting to Warne’s comments, the BCCI said selecting the playing surface was the prerogative of the curator, who is appointed by the local state cricket association, and the teams have no choice on the matter.

“The BCCI wishes to clarify that the wicket used in the match between Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals was as per the decision of the curator and the Ground and Pitches Committee,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

“This decision was taken in the best interests of the game. Neither of the playing teams has a choice of the wicket.”

The curator defended the change of tracks, saying the “primary objective” behind the move was to provide a good playing surface.

“The IPL is being played at the end of the Indian domestic season, and after the World Cup,” said Venkat Sundaram, chairperson of BCCI’s grounds and pitches committee.

“Therefore, the main pitches are bound to have wear and tear. The extreme heat has also taken its toll. Hence, it becomes necessary to change the pitches in some cases, as good playing conditions will result in good cricket.” — AFP

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