England captain Jos Buttler has suggested the state of the outfield in Dharamshala could compromise “the integrity of the game” when his side face Bangladesh on Tuesday.
The HPCA Stadium is one of the most visually stunning grounds in the world, set against the Himalayan mountain range of Dhauladhar, but the field of play is causing serious concerns due to its loose, sandy make-up and uneven grass coverage.
Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman came close to a nasty injury on Saturday when his knee lodged in the surface as he slid to stop a boundary, with debris spraying up from the soil as he landed.
The International Cricket Council have stressed that the outfield was rated ‘average’ by the officials at that game, while match referee Javagal Srinath has declared himself satisfied after a fresh inspection.
But England have had two training days at the venue and are unimpressed by conditions, which appear to fall short of international norms.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Buttler said: “I think it’s poor, in my own opinion. It’s not as good as it could be or should be.
“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.”
He subsequently took his misgivings even further, telling 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?
“Worse case scenario is something bad happens, but fingers crossed that doesn’t happen for both teams.”
“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,” Buttler said.
“You want to dive through a row houses to save a run. so it’s obviously not ideal, the way the surface is.
“I think it’s definitely one where you’re going to have to be a little bit careful, which isn’t what you want to be doing when you’re playing for your country.
“You want to put your body on the line and be trying to save every single run and have confidence in the field.
“We won’t be using it as an excuse, we’ll just have to be a bit smart.”
Ben Stokes engaged in another long batting session in the nets, his second in as many days, but there is no prospect of him being risked as he continues to recover from a hip injury.
“It’s good to see him back in the nets and building back towards full fitness but he’s probably unlikely for tomorrow,” Buttler admitted.
England cannot afford to slip up for a second time following their false start in Ahmedabad, a match which saw a stuttering batting display followed by an insipid effort with the ball.
There are plenty in the side with ground to claw back, with Joe Root perhaps the only player who emerged in credit after his busy 77, and Buttler senses a readiness to seize the moment.
“We’ve had a couple of really good days of preparation and everyone is desperate to get out and put in a really good performance,” he said.
“We know we didn’t play as well as we can in the last game and you’re always desperate to put that right, both individually and as a team. So, there’s plenty of hunger in the group and we’re excited to get back on the field.”
England are likely to draft left-arm quick Reece Topley into their starting XI as they ponder shifting the balance of the side to include an extra specialist seam option.