Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Son of a Pitch!

Is it just me or have cricket pitches the world over become as lifeless as a daytime soap opera? There was a time not too far back when batsmen from touring teams used to draw straws to see who would open on a pitch like Perth or Kandy. There was a time not too far back when batsmen were beaten by the spin, bounce and pace of the pitch on the first day of a test. It wasnt unheard of for the home team captain to meet with the chief curator before a test match - to carve a pitch best suited to the home team's strengths.

These days, its all about importing the 'pitch experts' and the soil and creating 'sporting pitches'. In the recently concluded India vs Pakistan test series, the pitch experts were imported from abroad and the soil was transplanted from other cities in atleast one case. When tactics such as these are employed, the unique flavor of the home ground is lost. Years of local expertise also goes unused if local experts are not consulted for pitch preparation. What good is your grandma's apple pie if it isnt made by her?

It is the imperfections and variations of a pitch in unique local settings that brings the excitement in a test match. The rough, sandy pitches of Karachi combined with the salty sea breeze make the perfect setting for reverse swing. The South African's know exactly how to bowl on a traditionally uneven Centurion pitch. The hard coral soil of the Barbados pitch gave confidence to an already fierce West Indian bowling attack. Try and impose visions of a sporting pitch and you lose the wonderful quirkiness of the pitch. I dont find myself looking to find out if the pitch is turning on the first day or still assisting the fats bowlers on the third day - for some reason if these things happen then its a bad pitch!

But in 2006 the ICC introduced a pitch monitoring process, as a result of which a board can be penalized for producing a 'quirky pitch'. Does this mean that all pitches should just be the same then? I completely disagree with the results of the ICC's actions. I do not agree with their intent, which is to ensure that substandard pitches are not prepared. However, just like other sports, the exact nature of the home conditions should be the prerogative of the host. Just as in Davis Cup tennis, the home nation picks indoor/outdoor courts and the surface type, the home team should be allowed to pick the nature of the pitch. Spinning, bouncing, seaming, batting etc etc... anything is better than the current state of affairs.

Make your pitch on this post...

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2 Pitched:

  1. Jrod said...

    At the Waca they have hired every specialist known to man to make the pitch bouncy again.

    The Mcg took a different tact, they got in crap drop in pitches that act like the old Mcg, reverse swing, slow bounce and shooters included.

  2. Soulberry said...

    There are a few things other than of ICC's doing involved, but first ICC.

    1) Covered pitches laid the first blows
    2) Compounded further by the "need" to make tests last the duration.
    3) The need to promote fast/attacking batting also may have something to do with this.

    4) then of course the changing climatic conditions are also said to be involved, but don't ask me how!

    Personally, I preferred the other era, but the slightest rain would ruin games then. Now we can have some play at least.

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