Green with disgust
Perhaps they couldn't wait any longer for the IPL. Perhaps they just wanted to get the hell out of Kanpur. Whatever the reasons, the Kanpur pitch allowed India and South Africa to finish their final Test of their recently concluded Test Series in a hurry. However, it wasn't a blink-and-miss affair, and surprisingly turned out to be an interesting match. What I'm not sure is that if anyone really cared about it.
Blame it on the looming spectre of the IPL, whose bosses are firefighting the colossally idiotic decision in restricting how the media can cover the event (more on that later). I did not get NEO (the sports channel which currently owns rights to domestic Test Series) for a while and realised that Doordarshan was not carrying the series. It is a little scary if even the local (not to mention lazily avaricious) dinosaur decides that Test cricket and its ad revenues was not worth the effort. After several years of claiming rights by 'national interest' fatwa, is this a sign of Test cricket dropping down the gutter in a country that claims to now be the biggest shareholder in the game?
As a result, personally, the series seemed to be akin to an umpteenth lunar landing: distant, with enthusiasm having waned, and all the fuss about the surface. Though no memorable (or printable) words must have come out of Graeme Smith's mouth on visiting the middle on the opening day. That said, he must have been relieved not to have sunk in the dust.
The problem is not quite that we shouldn't be having such pitches to play on. It's that each time India trails in a Test series, it has to pull out the powdery nasties from the backshelf, or so it seems. Add to it this completely inappropriate gesture of the debutant home captain sending greetings and money to the pitch curator. Collusion or not, this habit (for I have heard of such 'rewards' in the past) completely undermines the excellent survivorship exhibited by the likes of Ganguly. One is left with a reeking smell of distaste emanating from an already sullied set of team whites.
Why the IPL exists
This blog must admit to a similar distate to IPL Czar Lalit Modi and his methods. At a time when he should be doing all that he can to get everyone (except perhaps Subhash Chandra) on his side, he comes up with these ridiculous media terms. Non-print websites seem to be the hardest hit (see Sambit Bal's latest). It's a pity that some of these agencies are merely protesting when a coordinated boycott would have been sweeter. It's a battle of competing clouts and eventually they will get into the same bed (it would be bad business if they didn't) - it's just a question of how much protection they can agree to.
Nothing the IPL has done so far has pointed out to having any regard for the common paying audience member, and seems to have been born only to further inflate the BCCI's ever-deepening coffers and hubris. Hopefully stadia will at least be friendlier to the bums-on-seats than traditionally seen in India, but with the emphasis being on squeezing each pound out of the game's flesh, it's hard to be optimistic.