England wary of 'poor' Dharamsala outfield for Cricket World Cup clash with Bangladesh

Venue given clearance to host matches despite concerns about player safety while fielding

David Willey of England bowls during a training session at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala. Getty
Powered by automated translation

England captain Jos Buttler bemoaned the poor state of the outfield at Dharamsala where the defending champions take on Bangladesh in the World Cup on Tuesday.

The heavy, sand-based outfield came in for criticism during the match between Bangladesh and Afghanistan, where players lost their footing and spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman somehow avoided a serious injury as his knee got jammed into the ground while sliding.

While former England batsman and Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott questioned the condition of the outfield, the International Cricket Council has given the outfield an "average" rating, allowing it to host World Cup matches. But concerns about players' safety remain.

England captain Jos Buttler was equally worried about the state of the outfield at the picturesque ground that is in the foothills of the Himalayas, stating it is not ideal for World Cup matches.

"It's poor in my own opinion," Buttler said on Monday ahead of the match against Bangladesh.

"Any time you're talking about being careful diving or sort of being careful when you're fielding, it goes against everything you want to be as a team.

"So 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. You want to put your body on the line and be trying to save every single run or have confidence in the field. So, it's not as good as it could be or should be, but it's going to be the same for both teams, and the wicket looks fantastic."

Earlier, Jonny Bairstow said England may need to be cautious while fielding to avoid trouble.

"There's been a lot of chat about it hasn't there? Touch wood we don't have any major incidents," he said.

"The last thing you want is two guys going off with knee injuries or something. It can contribute to shoulders as well, if you're diving and your elbows get stuck in the ground. But it's like the pitch being different one venue to another, you've just got to adapt to it.

"When you're out there fielding with spikes on it will naturally become clear what you can and can't do. It might just be a case of boxing a bit clever with how you go about it.

"People need to make sure you do everything possible to make sure those areas - calves, Achilles - are loose and are able to cope with the stresses of a sand-based outfield."

The Dharamsala venue has been plagued by issues for a year. Earlier, it lost the hosting rights for a Test against Australia due to an unfit ground and then before the World Cup, the grass was hit by a fungal infection.

Meanwhile, Ben Stokes is likely to miss Tuesday's match as he continues to recover from a hip issue.

Stokes missed the World Cup opener against New Zealand, which England lost heavily in Ahmedabad. He returned to the nets, batting against throw-downs. He still looked in some discomfort at times and it is unlikely he will be risked on the Dharamsala outfield.

England's next match against Afghanistan in New Delhi on Sunday looks a more realistic target for Stokes to return to action.

"It's good to see him back in the nets and building back towards full fitness but probably unlikely for tomorrow," Buttler said.

Updated: October 09, 2023, 9:34 AM