In an attempt to quell the storm of controversy surrounding the pitch switch at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium during the ICC ODI World Cup 2023 semifinal clash between India and New Zealand, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has provided insights into the circumstances, shedding light on the decision-making process.
“The change was made on a recommendation from the venue curator, in conjunction with our host. Changes to planned pitch rotations are common towards the end of an event of this length, and this change was made with the confidence that the pitch will play well,” affirmed an ICC spokesperson, addressing the allegations made by the English and Australian media.
According to the ICC’s Playing Conditions for the World Cup, the responsibility for pitch selection and preparation lies with the ground authority, in this case, the Mumbai Cricket Association. The ICC collaborates with an independent pitch consultant, Andy Atkinson, who works alongside local groundstaff.
Atkinson, however, expressed his frustration in a leaked email, questioning whether the pitch for the final in Ahmedabad would be the first-ever ICC Cricket World Cup final with a pitch specifically chosen at the request of the team management or home nation board hierarchy.
The controversy has added an unexpected layer of intrigue to the World Cup semifinals, prompting the ICC to clarify the situation and assure stakeholders that changes in planned pitch rotations are not uncommon.
Australia’s captain, Pat Cummins, amidst the escalating pitch saga, expressed confidence in the ICC, stating, “Obviously, ICC has an independent pitch curator who manages that, so I’m sure they are all over making sure it’s fair for both teams.” Cummins emphasized that his team has not encountered any pitch-related issues in the ongoing tournament.
As the cricketing world awaits the outcome of the high-stakes semifinal, the pitch controversy has undeniably become a pivotal subplot, adding an unexpected layer of drama to an already intense competition.