Andhra Cricket Association gears up to host first Test


Visakhapatnam: With less than a month left before it hosts its first Test match, the Andhra Cricket Association, which was recently mired in a pitch controversy, is leaving no stone unturned to make it a success.

Ahead of the India-England November 17 Test, the Dr YSR ACA-VDCA face a litmus test tomorrow as they host the five-match ODI series decider against New Zealand.

“We hope to pass with flying colours,” ACA secretary and BCCI vice president G Gangaraju, also an MLA from Naraspuram told a news agency.

“The (Ranji match) controversy was just because of confusion between the local and the Board curator. The pitch for tomorrow’s match and the Test next month are completely different.”

The pitch made headlines for all the wrong reasons when Rajasthan skittled out Assam for 69 in their second innings in a Ranji Trophy match ending inside three days.

17 wickets fell on a day that included 11 in LBWs, and former India spinner and Assam coach Sunil Joshi questioned the stadium’s ability to host an ODI in two weeks’ time.

“The wicket was not rolled properly following a confusion. One wanted to use heavy roller while the other a light one.”

Since then BCCI’s curator K Sriram is supervising the wicket and is here for a fortnight.

“He will be here till the Test. There is no apprehension whatsoever. It’s a fresh wicket tailormade for batting. I promise you at least 260-270 runs tomorrow,” Gangaraju said.

Chief national selector MSK Prasad, the most popular face in Andhra cricket, had a close look at the pitch this morning.

“He expressed his satisfaction at the wicket and the stadium is ready for the Test match,” Gangaraju concluded.

The 28,000 capacity stadium hopes to get full house on all five days, come November and the ACA have plans to bring in about 5-6,000 school and college children.

Hailing the Board’s move to award Tests to small centres, the selection committee chairman told a news agency: “Indore Test has shown that the popularity has not diminished.

“It’s really a noble gesture by the BCCI to award Tests to tier-two cities. We have seen top cricketers coming from such cities. We expect an overwhelming response. All credit to the ACA.”

Elaborating the development plans undertaken by the ACA, the chief selector said they have 18 first-class grounds and four residential academies of which Guntur caters to only women boarders. The other three academies being Kadapa, Guntur, Vizianagaram Mangalagiri.

“(Former India u-19 captain) Ricky Bhui is a product of the academy,” he signed off.