The International Cricket Council (ICC) decision to conduct the Pepsi World Cricket League Division IV on the artificial turf in Italy is likely to hit Nepal hard.
Although, major events are held on natural turf, the event from August 14 to 21 will be held on the astro-turf as the hosts do not have the natural turfs. “This is shocking,” Binaya Raj Pandey, the president of Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN), said.
Nepali players have not played on astro-turf. “We do not play regularly in astro-turf. We do have such pitch but we are using them only for practice matches,” added Pandey. “Only Middle East nations use astro-turf in Asia.”
Despite the tradition of playing major tournaments in turf, ICC also has the provision of playing in astro-turf. “We could have complained about it if it was the first time, but ICC had conducted Division III and few other tournaments in astro-turf. Now, we are requesting ICC for training in countries with astro-turf facilities,” said Pandey.
Following the ICC decision, Nepal have to revise all their training and practice schedules for the tournament. Nepali team has started practicing in astro-turf at the TU Cricket Ground since the last three days.
Nepal are also revising their foreign tours schedule before the tournament. CAN President Pandey said that Nepal will tour Sri Lanka but other countries have not yet been fixed. He claimed every participating nation would face difficulties in astro-turf.
The ICC decision has surprised coach Roy Luke Dias and captain Paras Khadka. “We have expected bounce and grace in Italian pitches but now have started practicing in astro-turf,” said Dias. “However, as we got the information two months prior to the tournament, we can heave a sigh of relief.”
“As I have played in the Netherlands four years ago, I understand that fast bowlers use rubber shoes instead of spikes, and our players are likely to find it strange,” said Dias.
Nepal, who have been performing well relying on their spinners on previous occasions, will certainly not be able to bank on them this time. However, captain Khadka demanded calm and balanced performance from the players and said, “If we maintain our cool, the astro-turf will not affect our performance”.
“Experienced player like Binod Das and Dipendra Chaudhary have played a few matches in astro-turf in Canada in 2001. Their experience will count in Italy,” said Khadka.
Nepal, Italy, the US, Cayman Islands, Tanzania and Argentina are participating in the Pepsi World Cricket League Division-4. Nepal and the US had booked their Division-4 berths after finishing in the top two positions of the Division -5 tournament held in Kathmandu last February.