Lahore, March 24: The Pakistan Cricket Board has put its ambitious plans to import and install drop-in pitches in the country on hold.
According to a reliable source in the PCB, it has been decided to instead appoint a consultant from Australia who specialises in installing drop-in pitches to first visit Pakistan in April to visit all venues and advise the board whether it is feasible to have drop-in pitches in the country.
"He will visit the main venues and check the soil, weather conditions and other details there before advising on whether it is feasible to use drop-in pitches," said the source.
The source said that the PCB was also contemplating importing soil from Australia and use it at various venues to relay fresh pitches.
PCB Chairman, Ramiz Raja had signed a MOU with an investment/construction company Arif Habib Group, which was to bear the PKR 37 crore (USD 2 million approx) procurement cost of two or three drop-in pitches. The source said that if the plan to import drop-in pitches is shelved that money is still likely to be used in the development of pitches.
The PCB and the investment group had awarded a contract to a company to import the drop-in pitches but it has now been asked to hold the purchase. The company had given a time frame of around 10 months to complete the process of importing and installing the drop-in pitches.
The quality of pitches has become a major debate in Pakistan cricket since Ramiz took charge as Chairman last September and he has focussed and mainly talked about how the quality of cricket cannot improve in the country without first having better pitches at international and domestic venues.
Given this statement cricket fans and critics were surprised at the slow and dull tracks prepared for the ongoing test series against Australia in Rawalpindi and Karachi, both matches ending in high scoring draws.
For the third Test in Lahore which appeared headed for a final day result, the PCB hired a foreign curator to come and oversee the preparation of the pitch. The pitch for the first test in Rawalpindi got a demerit point and below quality rating from the ICC match referee.