West Indies T20 World Cup Pitch Curator Explains Issues After Semi-Final Debacle

Kent Crawfton, the West Indies cricket board’s chief curator responsible for pitch preparation during the recently concluded T20 World Cup, has conceded that there were issues with the pitch used for the first semi-final between Afghanistan and South Africa. The match, played at the Brian Lara Academy in Trinidad, turned into a one-sided affair as Afghanistan were bowled out for a measly 56 runs, the lowest total in a T20 World Cup semi-final.

Taking Responsibility for Semi-Final Pitch Fiasco

Crawfton, speaking to Cricbuzz a week after the tournament concluded with India’s victory, admitted that the pitch for the crucial semi-final wasn’t prepared adequately. “The first semi-final pitch ended up being too one-sided,” he stated. “The preparation programme was not carried out as planned. Thus, it became a cracked surface causing too much variation in pace, bounce, and sideways movement.”

The lopsided nature of the contest drew criticism from various quarters. Former England fast bowler, Stephen Finn,commented on BBC Test Match Special that the pitch, while potentially interesting for the final day of a Test match, was simply not suitable for a T20 encounter. Jonathan Trott, the coach of the Afghanistan team, expressed his disappointment,stating, “It should be a fair contest…you shouldn’t have batsmen worrying about going forward.”

Crawfton Explains Reasons Behind Pitch Issues

Crawfton elaborated on the reasons behind the problematic pitch in a Mason and Guest Radio show. He acknowledged several contributing factors, including unusual weather patterns in the Caribbean during the crucial preparation period of March and April. “We had a very strange weather pattern,” he said. “It was extremely hot and dry.” Despite these challenges, Crawfton asserted that efforts were made to ensure proper pitch rehabilitation across all venues.

Another point of discussion was the varying appearances of the pitches used throughout the tournament. Some grounds,like Kensington Oval in Barbados which hosted the final, had a browner appearance, while others boasted greener surfaces with live grass cover. Crawfton explained that the intention was to have all pitches utilise live grass. However,the management of pitches, particularly at Kensington Oval which hosted multiple matches throughout the tournament,resulted in excessive covering and insufficient moisture retention, leading to a browner appearance.

Limited Information on US Drop-In Pitches

A portion of the T20 World Cup matches were played in the United States, with drop-in pitches used for the initial round of games held in New York, Dallas, and Florida. Crawfton admitted to having limited information on these surfaces,which were also criticised for being batting-unfriendly. 

“It’s very difficult for me to make a pronouncement when I wasn’t there to actually see the end result,” he stated. He did acknowledge that the difference in grass type used on the drop-in pitches might have been a contributing factor. However, he emphasised his belief that the well-constructed drop-in pitches wouldn’t have been failures on their own.

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