ICC World Cup 2023 – Jos Buttler slams ‘poor’ Dharamsala outfield, urges players to be careful in the deep

Jos Buttler has described the sandy Dharamsala outfield as “poor” and questioned the venue’s fitness to host a World Cup fixture, after urging his England players to be careful when diving in the deep against Bangladesh.
The outfield was rated “average” by the match officials for Bangladesh’s six-wicket win over Afghanistan on Saturday, despite its patchy appearance and sandy base which contributed to Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s knee digging into the surface when diving to save a boundary.
Jonathan Trott, Afghanistan’s coach, said Mujeeb was “lucky” to avoid a serious injury and contacted England players to warn them about the outfield’s condition. But the ICC said that independent pitch consultant Andy Atkinson had inspected the outfield on Sunday and is “comfortable” with it – as is match referee Javagal Srinath.

England trained at the scenic HPCA stadium on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, and Buttler, their captain, admitted he had concerns about the outfield. “I think it’s poor, in my own opinion,” he said. “I think any time you’re talking about being careful diving, or maybe being careful when you’re fielding, it goes against everything you want to be as a team.

“You want to dive through a row of houses to save a run. That’s obviously not ideal, the way the surface is, the outfield. But we won’t use it as an excuse. We’ll adapt to it. But certainly if you feel like you’re having to hold yourself back, it’s not a place you want to be as a team, or as a player, or in a World Cup match.”

Asked whether he was happy that the game was going ahead, Buttler told the BBC: “The powers that be are comfortable. The only thing I would question is, if you are telling players not to dive and stuff, does that question the integrity of the game? The worst-case scenario is something bad happens, but fingers crossed that doesn’t happen for both teams.”

An India vs Australia Test match was moved out of Dharamsala at short notice earlier this year owing to the outfield’s condition, though the ground did host two IPL fixtures soon after. Buttler was involved in one of those, and said: “The outfield is different to when we played here in the IPL.”

Buttler said that his players would have to be careful in the deep, “which isn’t what you want to be doing when you’re playing for your country.” He added: “You want to put your body on the line and be trying to save every single run and have confidence in the field. It’s not as good as it could be, or should be.

“Naturally, you want to be instinctive in the field: if you see a ball, you want to dive for it. So it’s unique, to be honest and I know it’s going to be the same for both teams. But if you’re having to hold yourself back, you shouldn’t have to feel like that. Hopefully, fingers crossed, no-one on either side picks up an unfortunate injury.”

England’s seamers tested out the run-up areas during their training session on Monday. “It’s just getting that level of trust,” Buttler explained. “When guys are tearing in and trying to bowl fast, you need that confidence in your run-up. It’ll probably take guys a couple of balls to get used to it, but they’re professionals and they’ll adapt.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *