Pitches January 17, 2012

Stop blaming "bad" pitches for defeats

This notion that there's something sinister about a "home" pitch is just rubbish. The home team is perfectly entitled to prepare a pitch that suits their agenda
68

Let's get a few things straight before I make my point; unequivocally, Australia has clearly been the better team these last few weeks. In all aspects of the game, they have batted, bowled and fielded with superior skill. Michael Clarke has captained astutely, the coaching staff has prepared them superbly, they've handled the conditions much better than India and the selectors have also made the right calls. No excuses - just damn good cricket on all fronts.

Unlike most other sports, tennis and golf notwithstanding, one of the great charms about cricket is that it is played on surfaces that require different skills to master. The great players and teams have been able to succeed on whatever pitches they had to play on, even if they sometimes lost a crucial toss and had to cope with a green first-day seamer, a crumbling turner on days 4 & 5, a pitch that developed huge cracks or one that started to shoot through at ankle height. I don't subscribe to the view that there is necessarily such a thing as a "bad pitch" (so long as it is not dangerous). Both teams get to choose their final XI's before the game begins, they have a 50-50 chance of winning the toss and they have to then adapt, even thrive, in those conditions. It's the same for both teams.

This notion that there's something nasty and sinister about a "home" pitch is just rubbish. The home team is perfectly entitled to prepare a pitch that suits their agenda and it is up to the opposition to choose a suitable XI to combat those conditions. If they don't have the skills to adapt to those alien pitch characteristics, that's nobody else's fault but their own. That's the beauty of international cricket where we get to see a wide range of skills in vastly differing circumstances.

What I do think is laughable is this notion that only pitches that are hard and fast and true are "good" pitches. Who decided on that benchmark? I love watching the ball flying through throat height at the WACA, I love watching the medium pacers nipping it about at Headingley and I love a dusty turner in Mumbai. Watching any of the great players score runs on these pitches gives us mere mortals a glimpse of the versatility of their techniques and of their mental powers.

These last few Tests in Australia have clearly suited the home side. What's wrong with that? With a vastly less credentialed batting side and a similarly green bowling attack, Australia have played smarter cricket and executed the necessary skills with significantly more aplomb than the experienced Indian line-up. I have not heard any talk of it being doctored or unfair pitch. It's the sort of pitch that suited the Australians but they still needed to execute the skills to knock off a team with the sort of pedigree of the Indians. No excuses.

Likewise, the next time Australia has to play on a foreign pitch that may not suit their strengths, they still need to not only learn to cope and excel in these conditions, but also need to stop describing these pitches with loaded terms such as "doctored, poor, bad, home-advantage" etc. If it turns on the first day, that's no different from it continuing to bounce and seam on the fifth day. That's the beauty of cricket. I do not understand why any pitch that doesn't bounce or seam or carry through to the keeper is necessarily a poor one. Home teams are entitled to produce pitches that suit their strengths and it is upto the visitors to prepare adequately, make the right selections and then execute those skills. Australia did it against the West Indians in Sydney in the 1980s when they were clearly not going to compete with their fast bowling arsenal. Moderate spinners like Bob Holland, Murray Bennett and Allan Border filled their boots on these pitches and there was no talk of it being unfair. It was their only hope of beating the West Indians in that era. No excuses.

If we look at the recent Perth Test vs India - 701 runs scored, the game finished just after lunch on the third day and no one scored a century in the last innings. India could not score at even 3 runs-per-over, but the pitch was good enough for Australia to score at 4.83, with David Warner making more in one innings than India did in either of their two innings. Good pitch. No excuses.

Let's think back a few months to the first Test at Galle when Australia and Sri Lanka met. There was widespread criticism of the pitch but Australia still won the Test because they played better cricket. A total of 841 runs scored and it finished well into the fourth day. The pitch was good enough for Mahela Jayawardene to score a century in the last innings. No excuses.

A few years earlier, Australians were much aggrieved with the pitch at The Oval for the final Ashes Test of that series. A total 1213 runs were scored on that allegedly dreadful pitch at a run rate of over 3 per over, it went deep into the fourth day and Michael Hussey scored 121 in the last innings. No excuses? I remember hearing the bleating from 10, 000 miles away. If the pitch was that much of a dustbowl, why did they not select Nathan Hauritz? Whose fault was it that they went into it with a four-pronged pace attack, despite having Shane Watson in the team as an extra seamer.

I'm all for fast bouncy pitches in Australia when we face a team that is traditionally weak in that department. I'm all for spinning tracks when Australia face teams who are brim to overflowing with fast bowlers (West Indies in Sydney in the 1980s). I'm all for home teams preparing pitches that suit their strengths and opposition teams who have to learn to cope. But don't tell me that a pitch that only produced 701 runs and finished before the halfway mark is a good pitch because Australia happened to win whereas another pitch in another country where 1213 runs were scored and finished late on the fourth day with a superb Hussey century was a poor one. Good pitches come in all colours - they're not just good pitches because we win on them. No excuses.

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • noel on February 2, 2012, 7:52 GMT

    Well written - Australia knows what to expect in India - wickets that turn 180 degrees - Cowan and warner better start practicing NOW - and like you said - NO EXCUSES

  • LeA on January 28, 2012, 9:20 GMT

    Setting up spinners' tracks won;t help India at all given that ther spinners are next to useless. They should actually consider setting up wickets similar to Australian conditions given that they have a potentially very good pace attack. Not only that, their batsmen are good enough to learn to cope with the extra pace and bounce.

  • Stuart on January 26, 2012, 2:25 GMT

    On reading the headline I was expecting to get an article which spoke out about the recent claims by Gambir & the Indian Media that Aus had prepared a series of "bad" pitches. No I got an article that basically says "When you get to India dont moan when the pitch is a goat track". SCG turns, GABBA the ball swings & seams, Adelaide flat for a couple of days then turns, always have always will, but its not as if CA have prepared a homogeneous set of pitches to play to our strengths. If anything it shows that India have been unable to change there game plans to suit the "variations" in conditions that they need to compete on. Does this ring true to what teams face when playing in India?

  • Stuart on January 26, 2012, 2:10 GMT

    Long may India prepare pitches that suit them. It means they will forever be next to useless when they tour England, Australia, South Africa & the West Indies. Destined never to dominate world cricket (on the field of play). Question to someone in the know, What sort of pitch takes more effort & knowledge to prepare?

  • andy on January 24, 2012, 14:14 GMT

    having a pitch where u can open with a spinner on day 1 is just not cricket mate

  • Vishnu27 on January 21, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    @sundeep: more it is good slap for the hoards of moaning India fans!

  • Narayan on January 21, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    Excellent Article. Dhoni has always been maintaining that pitches in India should have turn from day 1 rather than flat pitches.

    Hope the BCCI listens to him.

  • Anonymous on January 21, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    Right on. Excellent article. Fair's fair. If a batsman can only play on certain pitches well then, he's not much of a batsman is he? I actually have not heard the Indians complain about the pitches in India - mostly about the failure of their aging batsmen. And well they should. The only complaints on the Aussie pitches night be coming from some disgruntled fans but that's to be expected. The players for the most part have laid the blame squarely on their abysmal performance and for that I give the Indian players credit.

  • Luke on January 21, 2012, 6:07 GMT

    Excellent article and as a massive Aussie fan I completely agree with you. I am confused though as to why you single out Australians as being the ones who complain about pitches the most. To use your examples the vast, vast majority of Australian fans completely disagreed with the criticism of the Galle pitch, as did most of the players. Likewise we were completely incensed by the decision not to include a spinner for the final ashes test, not that the pitch was in anyway bad. Of course the losers of a match are always going to be more likely to complain but in general terms I have heard far more complaints, recriminations and discussions about pitches from the sub continent than anywhere else. The reality is probably that we all do it pretty much the same amount depending on how badly we just got thrashed. But I honestly cant remember an Australian team or Australian fans complaining about series in India, Sri Lanka or Pakistan, on the contrary we enjoy those the most.

  • LRP on January 21, 2012, 2:28 GMT

    This article has got a fair bit wrong with it - Australia, who presented the great Windies with the Waca to bowl on - were doctoring pitches? The reality is that the SCG played like that whether it was Victoria, India or the Windies playing on it, but I agree with the overall premise.

    Having different sorts of pitches around the world makes the game more interesting. The home team will always have an advantage and fair enough if the home team chooses to accentuate natural characteristics in their pitches to give themselves a better advantage.

    Having said that there is one sort of doctoring that is a blight on the game. The practice of producing intentionally dead pitches late in a series when the home team is ahead in the series should be seriously discouraged and stamped out. It's bad for cricket as it kills the contest at a time that should be the most gripping.

  • noel on February 2, 2012, 7:52 GMT

    Well written - Australia knows what to expect in India - wickets that turn 180 degrees - Cowan and warner better start practicing NOW - and like you said - NO EXCUSES

  • LeA on January 28, 2012, 9:20 GMT

    Setting up spinners' tracks won;t help India at all given that ther spinners are next to useless. They should actually consider setting up wickets similar to Australian conditions given that they have a potentially very good pace attack. Not only that, their batsmen are good enough to learn to cope with the extra pace and bounce.

  • Stuart on January 26, 2012, 2:25 GMT

    On reading the headline I was expecting to get an article which spoke out about the recent claims by Gambir & the Indian Media that Aus had prepared a series of "bad" pitches. No I got an article that basically says "When you get to India dont moan when the pitch is a goat track". SCG turns, GABBA the ball swings & seams, Adelaide flat for a couple of days then turns, always have always will, but its not as if CA have prepared a homogeneous set of pitches to play to our strengths. If anything it shows that India have been unable to change there game plans to suit the "variations" in conditions that they need to compete on. Does this ring true to what teams face when playing in India?

  • Stuart on January 26, 2012, 2:10 GMT

    Long may India prepare pitches that suit them. It means they will forever be next to useless when they tour England, Australia, South Africa & the West Indies. Destined never to dominate world cricket (on the field of play). Question to someone in the know, What sort of pitch takes more effort & knowledge to prepare?

  • andy on January 24, 2012, 14:14 GMT

    having a pitch where u can open with a spinner on day 1 is just not cricket mate

  • Vishnu27 on January 21, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    @sundeep: more it is good slap for the hoards of moaning India fans!

  • Narayan on January 21, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    Excellent Article. Dhoni has always been maintaining that pitches in India should have turn from day 1 rather than flat pitches.

    Hope the BCCI listens to him.

  • Anonymous on January 21, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    Right on. Excellent article. Fair's fair. If a batsman can only play on certain pitches well then, he's not much of a batsman is he? I actually have not heard the Indians complain about the pitches in India - mostly about the failure of their aging batsmen. And well they should. The only complaints on the Aussie pitches night be coming from some disgruntled fans but that's to be expected. The players for the most part have laid the blame squarely on their abysmal performance and for that I give the Indian players credit.

  • Luke on January 21, 2012, 6:07 GMT

    Excellent article and as a massive Aussie fan I completely agree with you. I am confused though as to why you single out Australians as being the ones who complain about pitches the most. To use your examples the vast, vast majority of Australian fans completely disagreed with the criticism of the Galle pitch, as did most of the players. Likewise we were completely incensed by the decision not to include a spinner for the final ashes test, not that the pitch was in anyway bad. Of course the losers of a match are always going to be more likely to complain but in general terms I have heard far more complaints, recriminations and discussions about pitches from the sub continent than anywhere else. The reality is probably that we all do it pretty much the same amount depending on how badly we just got thrashed. But I honestly cant remember an Australian team or Australian fans complaining about series in India, Sri Lanka or Pakistan, on the contrary we enjoy those the most.

  • LRP on January 21, 2012, 2:28 GMT

    This article has got a fair bit wrong with it - Australia, who presented the great Windies with the Waca to bowl on - were doctoring pitches? The reality is that the SCG played like that whether it was Victoria, India or the Windies playing on it, but I agree with the overall premise.

    Having different sorts of pitches around the world makes the game more interesting. The home team will always have an advantage and fair enough if the home team chooses to accentuate natural characteristics in their pitches to give themselves a better advantage.

    Having said that there is one sort of doctoring that is a blight on the game. The practice of producing intentionally dead pitches late in a series when the home team is ahead in the series should be seriously discouraged and stamped out. It's bad for cricket as it kills the contest at a time that should be the most gripping.

  • CricketPissek on January 20, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    Ross - The ICC gave Sri Lanka cricket 'an official warning' about the pitch. No more quotes are required! This was ridiculous no one's safety was in question. All it was that the ball was turning from Day 1

  • Tania on January 20, 2012, 7:58 GMT

    Finally someone has the balls to speak out. I completely agree with you. I believe some teams almost like having the option of blaming the pitch in case they lose a test - here's a solution, why don't we have artificial pitches so that we take away that uncertainty from the equation - I am sure the fellows who whine about the "bad" pitches will be the first to oppose that.

    Thanks for a very good article Michael.

  • ROHAN BHALERAO on January 20, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    Bang On..! Bang, bang on..! I just want to flash this article in front of all those cribbers and whiners. No one could have said it better. I am all for home advantage pitches. What will be cricket, and even life, without changing conditions all the time?

  • Engr.Asher Hayat on January 20, 2012, 7:08 GMT

    Pitch conditions dosen't matter , what matter is the driver behind the car not the machine.

  • Ed on January 20, 2012, 6:14 GMT

    There are two types of bad pitches. 1. A green pitch with inconsistent and dangerous bounce (underprepared) 2. The flat roads that Sri Lankans usually prepare, where each side scores over 600 in their first innings and there's nothing for any sort of bowler. No seam movement for the quick bowlers and no turn for the spinners. This is the worst kind of pitch.

  • Meety on January 20, 2012, 4:37 GMT

    Following on from my previos comment, I would hate it if for the next Ashes in Oz, we were "scared" of Englands pacers & created "dustbowls". I would want THAT to backfire good & proper. I saw no pitches during the Indian series that disadvantaged the Indian side. IF INDIA played at Hobart, point would be taken. BTW Hobart is about as Kiwi as it gets in terms of pitches so no favours were done there. BTW, no favours were done for OZ when the WIndies played on the Gabba & WACA, those pitches suited the WIndies MORE than their own pitches! IMO - pitches with more bounce = more exciting cricket. This is why India's touring is so poor, their home wickets don't encourage allround great skills. I wouldn't expect Mumbai to turn into the WACA, but a shade more grass would mean the match is not so dependant on the toss.

  • Meety on January 20, 2012, 4:30 GMT

    Didn't like this article one bit. For starters, this is the SECOND time MJ has written something along the lines of the SCG pitch was prepped to beat the WIndies through spin. It is totally false. Yes Holland was nothing on Warney, but Duchie was an SCG specialist. Something that developed through the 80s totally seperatly to the WIndies comings or goings. The pitch was approaching the end of its shelf life. It has been relaid & now has the charactoristics of the 1950s. Pitches in Oz are traditionally only varied due to weather conditions. The Gabba during the Ashes didn't bake in seasonally cool weather & hence stayed springy & didn't break up over the last 3 days. I am all for variety around the world. However, the pitch in SL was dead on the first day. Generally a pitch should have a little something early for the quicks, & then gradually break up in favour of spinners. In India, why should the richest team in the world not be able to grow a shade more grass??

  • redneck on January 20, 2012, 4:23 GMT

    im not against home teams making wickets to suit them but there are limitations to how far you can go surely. the galle test for example could have only ever been won by the team that won the toss. the rolled mud sri lanka prepaired for the world cup distinctly favored batting first, chasing would have been near impossible as the pitch was already falling apart before the rain came only 35 overs into the match. tests in india generally have the feel of if you dont win the toss and bat the draws the only option left. these are why non subcontinent media jump up and down at some of these pitches rolled out! not so much the players as they are all fairly diplomatic these days. by all means cook up your dust bowls so long as it doesnt make the toss the biggest factor of a test match. also the term grass bowl? cricket was invented playing on grass, its the games natural surface! south africa used to use matting but until asia, dust and pitches were never used in the same sentence!

  • Rahul Kumar on January 20, 2012, 3:35 GMT

    It's more about mental state of indian players when they come on fast track they tend to move into defensive mode instead of fighting out with conditions. They mostly score on weak bowlers and when they are not available they feel helpless, this is exactly what is happenig in australia every bowler in this australian attack is different and effective.In 03-04 when they performed best they got weak bowlers like mcgill and bichel and 70% runs were scored on their bowling.So this FAST ,GRASS and BOUNCE ingredient really spoils their taste.

  • Mike on January 20, 2012, 1:09 GMT

    There is such a thing as a bad pitch. A bid pitch is one where the best bowlers in the world (spinners of quicks) cant take any wickets) If both teams score 600+ runs and there is no result that is no good for cricket. It is not good for getting crouds through the gate. The health of test cricket dictates what is good and bad. A "good pitch" gives a good contest between bat and ball. It can be a turner in India - as long as it is not a highway.

  • Anonymous on January 19, 2012, 14:02 GMT

    Michael in calling Galle pitch a "good one" did you miss the ball which Sangakkara got out to .If a lesser batsman would have been playing on that 30 years he would have died.Come on that one was a nasty pitch

  • Mark on January 19, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    Enjoyed the article. Agree that a variety of wickets adds to the game as a whole. Aside from pitches which break down and don't deliver consistently, my main gripe is with very flat pitches. Very flat pitches make for boring cricket. Would much prefer to see a contest between bat and ball rather than a batfest with lots of runs from both teams, dispirited bowlers and a draw. Will be interesting to see what happens in Adelaide this year, because from 2000 to 2010, the team batting first had an average first innings total of 501. Hopefully things have changed a little.

  • Nathan Kiely on January 19, 2012, 4:00 GMT

    Spot on.

  • Greg on January 19, 2012, 2:45 GMT

    There speaks the voice of reason... A couple of seasons at Luctonians will do that to a man.

  • Jay Nair on January 19, 2012, 2:13 GMT

    Yes, Indian batsmen should aim to bat well in English & Aussie pitches too. Similarly dustbowls will remain just that - tough for everyone except Indian batsmen. It is funny to note that some aussie supporters have taken an exception to Michael's point. They are missing a huge point, as usual!

  • RB01 on January 18, 2012, 23:28 GMT

    A good pitch is one that gives a chance to all players: batsmen, spinners, seam and swing bowlers to shine over 5 days. Deliberately preparing pitches that favor one aspect are not sporting and wins accumulated by such doctoring are worthless. Home conditions will always favor the home team simply because the weather conditions and soil of any place naturally produces a particular type of surface.

  • Champ on January 18, 2012, 21:59 GMT

    Hope...BCCI realizes this soon! They should prepare the team for all types of pitches/conditions at home! Its stupid on their part to make dead pitches again and again especially when we have tallented bowlers like Zahir, Ishanth etc..

  • Srik on January 18, 2012, 20:06 GMT

    A few points here -

    The galle pitch was challenging but I dont recall anyone from the Aussie camp calling it a bad pitch. If anything people liked the pitch as it favored the bowlers somewhat.

    Secondly, one reason some subcontinental pitches are considered substandard is that they start turning from the first session of day 1. Such a pitch would by unplayable by day 5 (if it goes that long). Whereas a pitch that has pace and bounce on day 1 would also offer some good turn by day 4. Such a pitch offers something to everyone - pacers, batsman, spinners etc unlike a dustbowl.

    Lastly, the primary reason I think many subcontinental pitches (and Antigua) were called bad was because they were roads. Scores of 550 all out, 615 all out, 152/1 Match drawn were common. Such pitches were killing bowlers (and test cricket). While pitches outside SC occasionally have such characteristics , its uncommon.

    Also, Australia have the best pitches for test cricket anywhere in the world.

  • barry de klerk on January 18, 2012, 19:04 GMT

    Excellent - less whining makes for better cricket - variety makes for more interesting sport. Just like motor racing needs tracks ranging from Monaco to Spa to Monza to Indianapolis, cricket needs pitches which favour different styles and talents.

  • sk12 on January 18, 2012, 18:22 GMT

    Reference to the Perth test is a bit off the mark. Take out Warner's innings, its eveident that players from both sides struggled to make runs. The run rate skew is also due that one freak innings (ok freak might be bit harsh). IMO Perth was indeed a difficult pitch, just like the MCG pitch. But yeah, I agree it is still a "good pitch", better than the one in SCG.

  • Chad on January 18, 2012, 17:57 GMT

    When you can open with a spinner and it turns with a brand new ball on day 1 then it is a "GOAT TRACK!", end of story.

  • Kailash Pandey on January 18, 2012, 15:58 GMT

    I agree with the premise, but it should be balanced out by removing the Toss. The touring side should get the choice of batting or fielding first as it feels like.

  • Chris on January 18, 2012, 15:34 GMT

    I don't mind playing pitches as they normally are. India should have turners, England should give assistance to swing, and West Indies pitches should take your head off. What annoys me is doctoring pitches to suit the particular match.

    The classic case is the first test of the 2009 Ashes. Australia turning up at the normally seaming Rose Bowl only to find it magically transformed into a dusty turner, to take advantage of the fact that England had two decent spinners, and Australia had none worthy of the title.

    Australia (and possibly New Zealand) are the one side who have never partaken in this sort of shenanigans. They played India on a rank turner in the SCG a few years back, and they spent a decade getting beaten and bruised by the Windies quicks at the WACA. Each Australian ground has its personality, and by-and-large, they stick with it, for better or for worse.

  • Siva on January 18, 2012, 10:11 GMT

    Well said ,however this issue always raised even by the Australia ,England ,once they enter any sub-continent pitches where they struggle to face murali,Ajmal,kumble,Aswin.i love to see present world number 1 england to come soon to srilanka and india to face worst defeat in their entire cricket career.

  • Anonymous on January 18, 2012, 10:06 GMT

    PLEASE DONT DEFEND BATTING PARADISE TO ME: i don't agree with the notion that all pitches are good, specially the ones you find in India and Pakistan: In my opinion pitches should be sporting(Give fair chance to everyone - fast/slow bowlers and batsmen) and positive( Induce result). The problem with Sub-continental flat wickets in test cricket is that you don't see aggressive result-oriented score lines like 'India 0 - ENG 4' and 'India 0 - Aus 3' I think for the survival of test cricket its very important to not make dead wickets that produce mammoth 600 totals every test while bowlers are made to look helpless. PEOPLE WANT TO SEE REAL CRICKET: COMPETITION BETWEEN BAT AND BALL. AND FINALLY A RESULT. NOT 4 BOWLERS GETTING MURDERED UNDER THE SUN FOR 5 DAYS ENDING WITH A DRAW! Good wicket is 'SPORTING and RESULT-ORIENTED'regardless of its nature(spinning, bouncy, fast, slow, swing etc)

  • Mils on January 18, 2012, 9:56 GMT

    yea yea...when India Makes Pitches suitable to Home Team, ICC starts questionning and banning Indian grounds. 2 standards.

  • Siddharth Parmar on January 18, 2012, 9:48 GMT

    issue is not turning pitches vs fast pitches. Issue is flat pitches versus sporty pitches(which make a even contest between bat and ball).

  • Sujan on January 18, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    its the teams like England, Australia, new Zealand headed by south Africa who just cry about pitches in sub continent, i haven't seen much of the sub continent players shouting of bad pitches overseas. The same reporters will write about lake of technique n skills of subcontinent players, but will blame the cricket boards and curator if they have to play on typical turning pitches in subcontinent. Australia has only won 1 series in Indian soil in there so called invincible era. n i have to laugh on England players who don't even know how to hold bat or stand on crease when they play in India. but the most ridiculous thing is the excuse they have for this, "A bad pitch". so i m totally agree with Michael that its time for all the teams not to blame what kind of pitches they get, instead of trying to learn how to play in alien conditions.

  • Venkat on January 18, 2012, 7:31 GMT

    Sensible and balanced article. I think needs good wickets that can hopefully result in a keen contest that all-spectators and viewers enjoy.

  • David on January 18, 2012, 6:34 GMT

    True...as long as they maintain a level of consistency. For example, Galle was a bunsen burner from day one but it maintained consistency throughout so it was a good wicket. The same can be said for Hobart as a seamer. The "win the toss win the match wickets" are the ones that need to be questioned, ie, they are obviously set up to deteriorate after day one or two, and are there as a lottery win for an obviously outclassed home team. In domestic one day cricket there was a side who use to water the wicket so that the side batting first would struggle for the first 25 overs. They would hope to win the toss and chase. Or hope that if the other side won the toss they would go with general convention and choose to set a target.

  • Ahmed on January 18, 2012, 5:54 GMT

    Great piece. I fully agree. First no pitch is a bad pitch and second there is no benchmark for a "good" or "bad" pitch, so bouncy and fast pitch does not mean a "good" or a "bad" pitch. One point I would like to add, pitches should be a bit more tricky than the currently in fashion placid and flat tracks.

  • Amrith on January 18, 2012, 5:29 GMT

    Agree with you 100%. The state of the pitch has nothing to with the team's ability to win. Champion teams find ways to win in all conditions. You might lose a test match or two because of alien conditions but almost certainly a team cannot blame a bad pitch for losing an away series altogether except in extreme circumstances where the other pitches are deadpan surfaces made for a draw.

    I also believe series wins differentiate the great from good. Decent sides might win a game or two away but rarely win series abroad because they do not have the depth required to win and sustain the hostility till the end of the series. Series winning qualities are exactly what made great sides. In the worst case of the opposition getting the better of them in away conditions in a test or two they will still find ways of not losing the overall series.

  • MondoTV on January 18, 2012, 5:10 GMT

    Michael, I tend to agree in the most part with your sentiments. What I don't agree with is that wickets on the sub continent are in general up to standard.

    Producing wickets that don't have bounce and carry can be detrimental although not in every case as you note. Personally I think it makes for more attractive cricket when they do.

    On many sub continent pitches you are often waiting for a batsman to get himself out - to me that promotes negative cricket. Captains and batsmen alike tend to be reactive rather than proactive. For a purist this can still be tense and exciting, but attractive? Not really. Unless it's someone exceptional like a Sehwag or Tendulkar. While there is no doubt that test batsmen still have to be very skillful I think you see the best of them outside the subcontinent. It is generalising for sure .. but I'll stick to my opinion :)

  • SRT_GENIUS on January 18, 2012, 4:58 GMT

    Fairly unbiased article! Kudos to the author. Along similar lines, when Brett Lee bends arm to break someone's jaw its fair game, but when Ajmal, Murali or Bhajji bend/t their arms for doosra- it's cheating ? Anyway England had their fun in Sunshine... it's time for sunstroke.

  • Nikhil on January 18, 2012, 4:54 GMT

    Fantastic article mate... absolutely spot on...

  • Uday on January 18, 2012, 4:04 GMT

    Great article. Whole heartedly agree with the points.

  • Neeraj on January 18, 2012, 3:59 GMT

    Really very nice article. Just true.

    Yes...no need to blame the pitches if you don't know how to play in those tracks and in those conditions. Just try to improve your technique so you can play across the world, in any pitch, in any country.

    That's the most important things...

  • Sammy on January 18, 2012, 3:52 GMT

    "I have not heard any talk of it being doctored or unfair pitch. "

    You will hear this comment only from the aussie and english fans!! Their definition of a good pitch is one which ONLY suits their bowlers and batsmen...period!!

  • Ram on January 18, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    HI, Michael..fair call I would say. Home advantage v doctoring are completely differnt things. Pitch is a result of the soil, climate etc., and is unique to each ground. As you mentioned, it is perfectly fine for a host team to choose grounds based on those characteristics depending on the opposition. The issue starts once you choose the grounds, then you go and meddle with them..that to me is the grey area. Austrlia in the 80s would get hammered in tests at Perth to WI, but the pitch did not change its behaviour. SImilarly, India's best performance in Australia over the years have been at Sydney and Adelaide which have been more friendly to them..

  • Vish on January 18, 2012, 3:34 GMT

    Mike, An excellent article that goes to the old adage, 'if you give then you must take' something that our Aussie team and Cricket Australia would do well to remember. Dhoni and the Board of Cricket Control India ( BCCI) have not once mentioned anything negative about the Aussie wickets that have been served up on the current tour. Over the last forty years that I have followed cricket closey in Australia, I have not seen such a bouncy SCG wicket on day one. It's good to see the Perth wicket going back to it's bouncy roots, something I'd expect to see mainatained when the strong English bowlers are out here in the future!

  • Sundeep on January 18, 2012, 3:06 GMT

    I agree. This article is good slap on English and Australian fans. Thanks!

  • Scott on January 18, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    Ummm.. Well said.

    Doctoring a pitch shouldn't help that much unless you can also doctor the toss. Let's have a some variety in pitches and let the best team win.

  • David Goodwin on January 18, 2012, 2:31 GMT

    Spot on. This is exactly what I have said so many times to people.

    Both teams have to bat on the pitch anyway, so there is always the fun of seeing it backfire on the hosts!

    The best matches are played on pitches that have something in them for both bat and ball, I'd rather see a spicy pitch than a road any day.

    If you want identical pitches, play on synthetic!

  • Nathan on January 18, 2012, 1:11 GMT

    Brilliant! Cricket is cricket regaurdless of where it is played. If you are picked to play for your country, you should be of a standard that allows you to play on any surface. Im on your side mate!

  • Ross on January 18, 2012, 0:01 GMT

    Foxy - I think you are creating a straw man here. Can you please provide some quotes from people describing the Galle pitch as poor? I also can't remember too many complaints about The Oval pitch of 2009. Sure the groundsman set it up to be hard to bowl anyone out on, but if we selected the right team we may have done so.

    Personally I think if the pitch isn't dangerous on day 1 or day 5, then it could be a good one.

  • MJ on January 17, 2012, 23:42 GMT

    Michael, may I ask why most of your articles appear to be criticizing the Australians when all teams do exactly the same things you always accuse the Aussies of? Do you have some sort of problem the the Australians. As a journalist is it not your job to try to be balanced and fair? If you do have a problem with the Aussies that is fair enough but you might consider how you come across in your articles, ie, narrow minded.

  • Som on January 17, 2012, 22:34 GMT

    What you are overlooking here is unpredictability of the pitch, because it does not hold up, or have broken down randomly. Such pitches clearly are underprepare. More often than not they help the spinners. Any pitch which keeps the ball too low and has a significant number of balls whose trajectory is way too unpredictable should be chastised. Otherwise its like bending the rules of the game...

  • Amol on January 17, 2012, 17:23 GMT

    Totally Agree with you, you are spot on . It is the same for both teams on any type of pitch !

  • Sam on January 17, 2012, 17:21 GMT

    Excellent!!Nailed it.

  • Anuragtch is where on January 17, 2012, 16:24 GMT

    Can't agree more. The only bad pitch is where both teams struggle to get ten wickets, leave aside twenty

  • Chris Perera on January 17, 2012, 15:59 GMT

    If you are a good batsmen you should be able to bat on ant wicket. Adaptability is very important.

  • Tboy on January 17, 2012, 15:16 GMT

    I agree, the ability to play in all conditions requires great skill (I’ve posted on this site before about it.) Perhaps a blog about India’s failure to adapt to conditions on this tour was more relevant? Or maybe an examination of the BCCI’s statement after the series loss? That was a tacit admission that they don't care how their team performs on the road, an insult to all cricketing fans. The only bleating I have heard lately is from the Indian press/fans whinging about the WACA curator & his team out on the wicket. Or did you disregard that? Re: Oval bleating 2009? Check out: http://www.espncricinfo.com/engvaus2009/content/story/421866.html http://www.espncricinfo.com/engvaus2009/content/story/421930.html No bleating there mate. Did you hear Australia “bleating” about being skittled for 47 in SA? Nope. One of the rare times a pitch actually got a blast from Punter was at Mumbai (Clarkes 6/9) a pitch that even the India press slammed & Dravid admitted was 'not an ideal Test wicket'

  • Jack on January 17, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    Excellent post- something which many cricket followers of Australia do not understand. If they lose in India, the usual excuse of the fans is terms like "dustbowls", "doctored" etc. It is quite likely that Indian players score a lot of runs in their pitches just like Kallis, Amla is doing in SA and Australian batsmen in their pitches.

    Home pitches are tailored to advantage the home teams. My criteria for a good pitch is that - it should have more or less uniform bounce and it should last the 5 days.

  • Muthu on January 17, 2012, 14:10 GMT

    Well said. Completely agree with you on this.

  • Sarath on January 17, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    Ah, thanks for the article. Galle pitch being ranked poor is one of the worst thing I have seen in a long time. Even the pitch in mumbai against Oz was not worse than the one's NZ prepared against India in 02-03. Somehow tracks should not turn on first day.

  • Gizza on January 17, 2012, 12:56 GMT

    Spot on Michael. You seem to be improving as a cricketing journalist with each article and are one of the best going around at the moment. Nobody writes with as much common sense.

    The variety of pitches is why cricket is better than most other sports in the world. Only tennis can slightly compete when it comes to different conditions. The exception to the "variety of pitches" thing for me are extremely flat tracks in Test matches where a draw is guaranteed. But most pitches aren't like that if you look at the win/loss/draw stats for recent Tests in the subcontinent.

    And just to clarify, the uncovered pitches of England in yesteryear were far more helpful to spin bowlers than the modern subcontinental wickets are.

    And another thing, in all sports there is a home and away advantage. But in most sports it comes about because of the crowd support for the home team and the travel fatigue for the away team. Sometime there is different climate. Cricket just adds the pitch to this equation

  • Andy Atkinson on January 17, 2012, 12:31 GMT

    Good article,

  • Kasyap on January 17, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    Very true. Pitches should be favorable to the home side and it is up to the opposition to compete and win. Good analogy about the pitch that turns on the first day and the one that seams even on 4th & 5th days.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Kasyap on January 17, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    Very true. Pitches should be favorable to the home side and it is up to the opposition to compete and win. Good analogy about the pitch that turns on the first day and the one that seams even on 4th & 5th days.

  • Andy Atkinson on January 17, 2012, 12:31 GMT

    Good article,

  • Gizza on January 17, 2012, 12:56 GMT

    Spot on Michael. You seem to be improving as a cricketing journalist with each article and are one of the best going around at the moment. Nobody writes with as much common sense.

    The variety of pitches is why cricket is better than most other sports in the world. Only tennis can slightly compete when it comes to different conditions. The exception to the "variety of pitches" thing for me are extremely flat tracks in Test matches where a draw is guaranteed. But most pitches aren't like that if you look at the win/loss/draw stats for recent Tests in the subcontinent.

    And just to clarify, the uncovered pitches of England in yesteryear were far more helpful to spin bowlers than the modern subcontinental wickets are.

    And another thing, in all sports there is a home and away advantage. But in most sports it comes about because of the crowd support for the home team and the travel fatigue for the away team. Sometime there is different climate. Cricket just adds the pitch to this equation

  • Sarath on January 17, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    Ah, thanks for the article. Galle pitch being ranked poor is one of the worst thing I have seen in a long time. Even the pitch in mumbai against Oz was not worse than the one's NZ prepared against India in 02-03. Somehow tracks should not turn on first day.

  • Muthu on January 17, 2012, 14:10 GMT

    Well said. Completely agree with you on this.

  • Jack on January 17, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    Excellent post- something which many cricket followers of Australia do not understand. If they lose in India, the usual excuse of the fans is terms like "dustbowls", "doctored" etc. It is quite likely that Indian players score a lot of runs in their pitches just like Kallis, Amla is doing in SA and Australian batsmen in their pitches.

    Home pitches are tailored to advantage the home teams. My criteria for a good pitch is that - it should have more or less uniform bounce and it should last the 5 days.

  • Tboy on January 17, 2012, 15:16 GMT

    I agree, the ability to play in all conditions requires great skill (I’ve posted on this site before about it.) Perhaps a blog about India’s failure to adapt to conditions on this tour was more relevant? Or maybe an examination of the BCCI’s statement after the series loss? That was a tacit admission that they don't care how their team performs on the road, an insult to all cricketing fans. The only bleating I have heard lately is from the Indian press/fans whinging about the WACA curator & his team out on the wicket. Or did you disregard that? Re: Oval bleating 2009? Check out: http://www.espncricinfo.com/engvaus2009/content/story/421866.html http://www.espncricinfo.com/engvaus2009/content/story/421930.html No bleating there mate. Did you hear Australia “bleating” about being skittled for 47 in SA? Nope. One of the rare times a pitch actually got a blast from Punter was at Mumbai (Clarkes 6/9) a pitch that even the India press slammed & Dravid admitted was 'not an ideal Test wicket'

  • Chris Perera on January 17, 2012, 15:59 GMT

    If you are a good batsmen you should be able to bat on ant wicket. Adaptability is very important.

  • Anuragtch is where on January 17, 2012, 16:24 GMT

    Can't agree more. The only bad pitch is where both teams struggle to get ten wickets, leave aside twenty

  • Sam on January 17, 2012, 17:21 GMT

    Excellent!!Nailed it.