Thu, 17 Oct 2019

Mashrafe wants players, not outsiders, to assess pitches

ESPNCricInfo
17 Jun 2019, 04:42 GMT+10

1:08 PM ET

Mashrafe Mortaza has asked his teammates to rely on their instincts in assessing pitches - starting with the one in Taunton, where Bangladesh play West Indies on Monday - and not go by "outside" opinions.

The playing surface in Taunton is quite green, but there's also the knowledge that it is traditionally a batsman-friendly pitch. And that has caused confusion in the ranks, with Mashrafe saying that since it's the players who cop the flak for poor performances, they should be make the calls on the matter.

"The team that correctly assesses the pitch faster, they will be ahead in the game. I think we misread the pitch in the New Zealand game [at The Oval]. If we had read the pitch right during that match, we would have targeted 260-270, and not 300-plus," Mashrafe said. "There's confusion about the [Taunton] pitch as well. We heard it will be grassy but some are saying that it is usually a flat pitch.

"I think those who go out in the middle can assess it quicker, since they end up getting criticised for the defeat."

The context for the comments was Bangladesh's 244 all out against New Zealand. It was thought of as a 260-270 pitch by the players but, Mashrafe said, the opinion outside the playing group - influenced by the radio commentary - was that the team should aim higher, which prompted the batsmen to throw their bats around more than they might have otherwise. They collapsed from 151 for 3 in the 31st over and lost by two wickets; in the previous game, against South Africa, they had scored 330 for 6 at the same venue.

ESPNcricinfo found out soon after the match against New Zealand that some in the Bangladesh dressing room had been influenced by the radio commentary. At one stage, a message was also sent out to the batsmen in the middle - between overs 31 and 38 - to get a move on. That didn't go down well with many of the players.

"The behaviour of a pitch changes as the match progresses. When you are playing in a ground like The Oval, you are likely to have in the back of your mind that there will be 330-350 runs," Mashrafe said. "I think our calculations were spot on against South Africa. But if Shakib [Al Hasan] didn't get out at that time against New Zealand, we would have gone along the same path against New Zealand.

"When [Mohammad] Mithun and [Mahmudullah] Riyad were batting, we had the right thinking, aimed at a score around 270. It is hard to judge the pitch listening to the radio. They can only speculate, and only comment on things as it progresses in front of them. I think those in the middle should make the decisions based on their judgment."

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