First time ever in Japan
By Biju Paul
For the first time ever, a Flicx pitch(artificial, portable surface) was used in Japan in a KCL match which was played at the Fujinomiya ground, which, incidentally, was also the first time any team played there. Given below is the report sent to the KCL Organising Committee about the Flicx pitch by Biju Paul.
Although it was a good idea in itself to use one and the Indian Engineers were happy to be part of the history(if it is going to the JCA records at all), it wasn’t the ideal day to use it. The wicket was mowed in the morning but it wasn’t enough to keep the grass under the pitch, with more still poking out of the Flicx. Wet ground conditions made it difficult to mow the grass ideally and as such I’m unable to give a true assessment. In my opinion, we should try this pitch on a strip where the grass is cut to the ground level and on a dry day, definitely not on a wet and foggy day(our match report is coming out soon).
One thing worth mentioning here is the fact that shoes with studs cannot be used on this pitch as I found out myself while bowling a few test deliveries. It was slippery and dangerous as such. I’m not sure if it has got anything to do with my studs. My shoes is a local made(Indian) normal bowling shoes. But one mode of dismissal of our opening batsman(Hit Wicket) illustrates the problem more vividly. He said that as he went backfoot, his right leg slipped and hit the wicket dislodging the bail while dispatching the ball to the boundary. It is important to note that he was using the normal sports shoes without studs.
Because of the problem with my studs on the Flicx, we decided to use only half of the Flicx pitch(only at the batting end) which resulted in creating a local and temporary rule that any ball that does not pitch on the Flicx – on the edge or in front of – should be called a noball. However, it made my bowling figures look messy(not that it was any exceptional this season) with as many as 7 noballs off five overs and a total of 17 noballs by our bowlers. Since the middle of the pitch is the perfect spot to pitch the ball if you are looking for a bouncer or short pitched ball, this rule should be done away with. I’m no McGrath to pitch all 6 balls in an over on the exact same spot. In hind sight, the ball pitching on the edge should be called a ‘dead ball'(since it is a bit unpredictable) – nothing else – and all other balls should be valid.
A word about the Fujinomiya ground. The ground has the potential to become a regular venue with proper maintenance and a diagonally laid pitch, which, I was told, may be done by the ground custodians. Currently, the boundaries on the on and off side are too short for a batsman like me!
In conclusion, we should try this on a dry day with the grass cut to the ground level or no grass at all with different types studded shoes. Since this is a popular type of portable pitch, I have a feeling that it cannot be as bad as I made out in this mail.