Curators are usually non-fussy gentlemen. They like sunshine, grass and heavy rollers. What they don’t like is bowlers running on to the wicket, rain and the way English cricketers celebrate Ashes win by peeing on the cricket pitch.
They don’t have any problem per se with English cricketers relieving themselves. After all when you have to go, you have to go.
Urine is full of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus nutrients plants need to thrive but it’s a different ballgame altogether when cricketers choose to relieve themselves on grass/soil after endless pints of beer.
Urine is made of crystals that are basically uric acid. So when Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Kevin Pietersen reportedly let it flow on The Oval pitch, they inadvertently ‘killed’ many blades of grass.
While little is known how much curators across boards co-operate, there is no denying that the catastrophe that struck curator Cam Sutherland evoked sympathy from his counterparts in India.
dna could not reach Sutherland, but his counterparts here spoke. On the condition of anonymity, of course. Why? “Because this is not a gentlemanly topic”. Fair enough.
Sutherland was obviously peeved at the boys who peed on his hallowed turf, but he needn’t worry. “It’s not a big deal,” a senior BCCI curator said, referring not to the players’ audacity but Sutherland’s workload. “All he needs to do is brush the infected area so that the dead blades of grass are uprooted. A few days of watering and the pitch will be good to host another Test match.”
A Mumbai-based curator advised that the pitch be given “absolute rest” for 15 days. “How can he say that the same pitch will be ready (for use) in a few days’ time? Grass, like you and me, are living objects. They breathe, you see. How would you feel if someone pours acid on you?” he retorted, quite emotionally.
So what would he do to make the pitch usable again? “You need to water the pitch for a week, once in the morning and then in the evening. Then, let it dry for a week,” he said.
“You see most cricket grounds use Bermuda grass. The grass on the pitch is generally 1mm tall. But that’s not all.
When you urinate on the pitch, it percolates about two inches below the ground level. But thankfully, the Bermuda grass grows four to five inches,” he said.
He wasn’t done. “But had a few more players done what these three did, then the curator would have had a tough time. Imagine the urine finding its way to the root of the Bermuda grass! It would have changed the soil pattern.”
When asked if he had encountered a similar problem, the curator presented a twist. “Our players are sensible. They don’t do such things, but you can’t explain these things to stray dogs, can you? Every day, our maalis (gardeners) chase dogs with sticks, stones or sometimes both. But they keep coming back. I don’t know why they’re so fascinated with pitches!”
So do the maalis agree to ‘clean up’ the mess? “No one likes to clean someone’s urine, you see. But someone has to do it,” the curator said, without elaborating if there was a clear ‘rotation policy’ in place.
Meanwhile, the three cricketers must be thinking, “Well, at least we did not pee on burly bouncers.” But much to their chagrin they are likely to be spoken off in the same breath as Monty Panesar. Talk about pee(r) pressure.