This World Cup will be a run fest: BCCI head curator

BCCI head curator Ashish Bhowmick hopes to see a run fest in all 10 World Cup venues. He feels Bangladesh’s preparation for the World Cup has been ‘ideal’

The Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, where the final of the ICC World Cup 2023 will be heldBCCI

In this year’s cricket World Cup, hidden behind the battle of the competing 10 teams, another competition will be taking place. A competition to see which wicket produces the most runs, which wicket will make way for more sixes and fours.

The pitch curators of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will be taking part in this secret competition. BCCI’s chief curator Ashish Bhowmick said with a lot of pride, “We have a competition among ourselves about which venue can produce the best matches.”

Ashish has been working as BCCI’s chief curator since 2019. Fifteen curators are working under him to prepare the 10 venues for the upcoming World Cup. Everyone in his team of curators have the same goal, to prepare ‘good’ wickets. And you must’ve already understood from what Ashish said that by ‘good’ wickets, he means wickets which will produce run fests.

Ashish, who hails from Agartala, has relatives in Bangladesh as well. He spoke via phone from Chennai about the preparations for the World Cup. But he said everything well within the means of ICC’s code of conduct. The BCCI has also barred him from speaking with anyone about the wickets. Amidst these restrictions, the conversation with the BCCI’s chief curator revealed nothing new but confirmed what was already speculated by all. The World Cup in India in October-November will be a run fest.

BCCI head curator Ashish Bhowmick

When talking about the preparations, Ashish was all praises for his co-workers, “We can estimate how many runs can be scored on the wickets we prepare. Because we set targets for ourselves. In the last IPL (Indian Premier League), teams scored 200 runs or more 37 times. That didn’t happen by accident. Indian curators have now reached that level.” So that should mean that Ashish can predict what would be a safe score in the World Cup!

This time, Ashish became a little more pragmatic in his answer, “It won’t be right to say something like that about the wickets in the World Cup. But if you’ve seen the pitches in the recent international matches in India, the wickets in the World Cup will be similar. More than 300 runs should be scored in both innings of the match. The wickets will be like that in all 10 wickets in the World Cup.”

The recent season of the IPL, which ended on 29 May, also gives a hint on how the wickets are likely to behave in the World Cup. According to Ashish, the latest edition was the best out of all 15 seasons of the IPL. The best, because this time the most amount of runs were scored. Ashish said, “Out of the 74 matches, 37 times 200 or more than 200 runs were scored by a team. Eight times teams successfully chased 200 or more runs.”

BCCI has instructed to prepare similar ‘good’ wickets in the World Cup. And the ICC always prefers having batting friendly pitches in white-ball cricket. Ashish said, “BCCI is placing a lot of importance to ensure that the quality of the grounds and the pitches are excellent in the World Cup. They want the wickets to be fast, produce a lot of runs and have excellent pace and carry.”

Ashish Bhowmick with former president of BCCI Sourav Ganguly
File photo

Ahead of the World Cup, Bangladesh have been playing on batting wickets in white-ball cricket even at home. This was seen in the series against Ireland and Afghanistan. Ashish said this was ‘ideal’ preparation for the World Cup.

As a curator, Ashish’s favourite cricket ground is in Sikkim, which he prepared himself. In Ashish’s words, “You will be awestruck there, it’s so beautiful!” But as he is from Agartola, his ‘home ground’ is in Guwahati.

Before the World Cup, Bangladesh will play two practice matches at the Assam Cricket Association’s Dr. Bhupen Hazarika Cricket Stadium. Ashish feels that this is the best possible preparation for the Bangladesh team before they embark on a World Cup of run fest. “One of the best wickets in India is in Guwahati. Till now, two ODIs have been played at that venue. In all four innings of those two matches more than 300 runs were scored.”

But will the World Cup wickets only favour the batters, will it have absolutely nothing for the bowlers? Is this going to be a nightmarish World cup for the bowlers? Ashish rejected that possibility and said, “It will be tough for the spinners, but the wickets will have something for the pacers. But the bowling attacks can’t be spin-centred. In these wickets, the spinners might be able to restrict scoring but they won’t be the deciding factor.”

Ashish and his team are preparing ‘good’ wickets hoping for a run fest. So, why could anything else be the ‘deciding factor’ in those wickets!

*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy