T20 World Cup pitch in New York ‘bordering on dangerous’

Concerns are growing over the state of the T20 World Cup pitch in New York, with former England coach Andy Flower suggesting conditions at the ground were “bordering on dangerous” during India’s win over Ireland.

Bringing big matches to the pop up Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Long Island has been a key part of the International Cricket Council’s bid to break the lucrative American market, but the gambit is off to a rocky start.

With ‘drop in’ pitches grown over 1,000 miles away in Florida and transported via truck just a month ago, teething problems are hardly a surprise.

The enterprise has been overseen by Australian Damian Hough, an experienced curator in charge of the Adelaide Oval, but he and his team have fresh issues to iron out ahead of a huge marquee fixture between India and Pakistan on Sunday.

After a low scoring opening game between South Africa and Sri Lanka served up scores of 77 all out and 80 for four – hardly the kind of explosive hitting promoters would hope for – things got even trickier on Wednesday.

Runs were hard to come by again as Ireland were bowled out for 96 with huge variations in bounce causing havoc for their batters.

India chased their target with plenty of time to spare but only after captain Rohit Sharma retired hurt having taken blow on the upper arm from a Josh Little delivery that leapt sharply.

Rishabh Pant, Paul Stirling and Lorcan Tucker were among others to sustain body blows on a difficult track.

Flower, a seasoned coach with experience all over the world, sounded a note of caution about the setup.

“I’ve got to say that is not a good surface to play international cricket on. It is bordering on dangerous,” he told ESPN Cricinfo.

“We saw the ball bouncing from a length both ways, keeping low occasionally but in the main bouncing unusually high and striking people on the the thumb, the gloves, the helmet. It proved very, very difficult batting conditions for any side.”

Former India international Sanjay Manjrekar agreed with Flower and suggested that the issue may not be fixable.

“They have a problem on their hands. Inherently I think there is something wrong with the base of the surface,” he said.

“It seems the cart has been put before the horse. With all the excitement of getting cricket in New York, the most important thing, which is the pitch, isn’t living up to the hype.”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan, watching along on television, added on X: “Shocking pitch. Trying to sell the game in the states is it..but for players to have to play on this sub standard surface in New York is unacceptable.”

India captain Rohit Sharma was forced to retire hurt against Ireland after a blow to the arm.
India captain Rohit Sharma was forced to retire hurt against Ireland after a blow to the arm (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Ireland play Canada at the ground on Friday, the Netherlands take on South Africa on Saturday and the eyes of the cricketing world will descend when the India-Pakistan rivalry renews the following day. Second hand tickets have been doing a roaring trade, fetching thousands of pounds on resale websites.

Speaking in May, Hough declared himself pleased with the project.

“We couldn’t be happier,” he said.

“Everything is going to plan, they (the pitches) are in real good condition and all of our benchmarks and measures that we take along the way are exceeding expectations. You want the batters to be able to play shots all over the ground so that is our design.”