Former England batter Mark Butcher has voiced strong criticism against the BCCI for changing the initially approved pitch for the World Cup semi-final clash between India and New Zealand at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.
The Daily Mail reported that the initially assigned pitch for the first semi-final, pitch number seven, unused in the World Cup, was substituted with pitch number six.
This change, allegedly made without consulting the ICC’s independent pitch consultant Andy Atkinson, was purportedly at the behest of the home board, with accusations implying a bias toward favoring the Indian team.
The ICC subsequently issued a statement addressing the alterations to pitch rotations, clarifying that such changes are typical in extended tournaments. The statement emphasized that the adjustment was made based on the recommendation of the venue curator in collaboration with the host. The ICC’s independent pitch consultant was informed of the change and expressed confidence that the pitch would perform well.
Post-match, Butcher commented on the pitch exchange, suggesting that it contributes to the perception that the ICC favors the preferences of the BCCI. During a local podcast, he shared his thoughts on how this incident adds to the perception of the ICC aligning with the BCCI’s interests.
Mark Butcher said, “There is a growing perception around the world in the game of cricket that the ICC is nearly sort of an executive branch of the BCCI. And when things like this happen, it does very little to change people’s opinion that that is the status quo.”
He added, “Look, India are the best team in the tournament, right? And if they win it, they will have deserved to win for that fact. Is there any need whatsoever, for there to be any sort of shenanigans whereby the gloss gets taken off the brilliance of their playing team?”
Butcher suspects that the circumstances around the pitch-swapping incident suggest unfair advantages for the BCCI beyond the playing field. He believes the problem lies in the handling of protocols, creating a perception of an uneven playing field.
According to Butcher, this controversy reinforces the belief that the ICC is influenced by the BCCI, as evident in various aspects such as television deals and hosting rights.