Atkinson denies getting instructions from Lara

Published: Monday, June 26, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Basseterre, St Kitts:Dismissing media reports that he was specially flown in and instructed by Brian Lara to prepare a green top for the third Test here, ICC pitch consultant Andy Atkinson said he has never even spoken to the West Indian skipper and was in the Caribbean on a routine trip to take stock of the World Cup preparations.

''There are stories going around about what Brian wanted but I haven't actually spoken to Brian. I have never spoken to him and he hasn't spoken to me so I can't go from what I read from the papers.

If I go from what I read in the papers, I'll be mad,'' Atkinson said in an interview to CMC CricketPlus.

''It is not costing them anything. I am actually out here on a trip around the venues for the Cricket World Cup which is part of my job and when I am finished here, I am going to disappear to other parts of the Caribbean to look at the grounds that are being built for the World Cup next year,'' he said, rejecting reports that he was being paid to specially make pace-friendly pitches for the ongoing Test series.

Atkinson said he only assisted the local groundsmen in the preparation of the pitch and did not dictate the nature of the track as is being suggested.

''What I do is that I come in and work along with the local guys.

I don't take over. I work with them, I take their local knowledge and I work with my experience and we try to produce the best out of that,'' he said.

The pitch consultant said he was willing to come again and assist them again if the need arose but clarified that preparing a pitch did not mean altering its basic nature.

''I am not trying to come in and standardise the wicket. That's the one thing the ICC don't want is to standardise cricket pitches around the world. They want pitches to be traditionally the same in each country, in each venue,'' he said.

Analysing the pitch in the ongoing third Test, Atkinson said the track had played well and other factors like weather should also be taken into consideration while describing the pitch.

''Overall I think this surface has turned out to be a quite decent one,'' he said.

''We've lost two full sessions (first day before lunch and second day after tea) which makes a big difference as it's three quarters of a day, so I think given five days, the pitch has got to a stage now where we are in the middle part of the match where traditionally it should be at its best and then it should start to deteriorate from now,'' he added.

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