South Africa in India 2015-16 December 1, 2015

Nagpur pitch gets 'poor' rating from ICC referee

ESPNcricinfo staff
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'People free to give opinion on pitches'

The Nagpur pitch used for the third Test between India and South Africa has been given a "poor" rating by the match referee, Jeff Crowe, in his report. The report has been submitted to the ICC, and the BCCI, which has been informed of the rating, will now have 14 days to respond.

The match finished inside three days, ending in an India victory, and there were several occasions of the ball misbehaving off the surface. Batsmen had to contend with variable turn, variable pace and variable bounce even on the first day of the game.

The match referee's report, which included concerns raised by the match officials, will lead to a review of the Nagpur pitch's performance. ICC's General Manager of cricket Geoff Allardice and Chief Match Referee, Ranjan Madugalle will consider all the evidence, including studying video footage of the match, before reaching their decision on whether or not the pitch was poor and if so, whether a penalty should be imposed.

The penalty for a pitch that is called poor for the first time, as would be the case for Nagpur, can range from a warning and/or a fine of $15,000 with a directive to institute corrective measures.

The ICC's pitch and outfield monitoring process in 2010 states that a pitch is said to be poor if it any of the following apply:

  • The pitch offers excessive seam movement at any stage of the match
  • The pitch displays excessive unevenness of bounce for any bowler at any stage of the match
  • The pitch offers excessive assistance to spin bowlers, especially early in the match
  • The pitch displays little or no seam movement or turn at any stage in the match together with no significant bounce or carry, thereby depriving the bowlers of a fair contest between bat and ball.

Thirty-three of the 40 wickets that fell were to spinners. South Africa, in their first innings, slumped to 12 for 5 and then 79 all out. Not a single batsman was able to score a fifty, which was a first for a Test in India.

The match narrative prompted strong criticism of the extent to which pitches have been made to suit spin but the Indian camp had been resolute in saying these are the conditions that should be expected in India. Captain Virat Kohli said it was up to the batsmen to adapt. Team director Ravi Shastri had said there was "nothing wrong with" the pitches in use for the series three days ago.

From the South African camp, their captain Hashim Amla had called the Nagpur pitch the toughest he has had in his 11-year Test career.

A senior BCCI official familiar with Indian pitches expressed surprise at the rating and even compared the Nagpur pitch to the Ashes Test earlier this summer at Trent Bridge. "Even that Test at Trent Bridge finished in two days, so I don't know how this rating was arrived at," the official said. He added that the Nagpur pitch had bounce, the ball was turning and seaming.

According to this official countries would keep doctoring pitches in the name of home advantage and that the best way to curb it is if the ICC appointed pitch inspectors for bilateral series. "The ICC should appoint five to six pitch inspectors, the itineraries are known well in advance. Send the inspectors well ahead of the series to various countries. Let them also study the pitches, understand the nature of the pitches and the local weather as such factors play a role. That is the only way to stop this [excess home advantage]"

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricfansince91 on December 8, 2015, 5:22 GMT

    @DRJEZ : I apologise for putting across my point in incorrect way.. I never meant that one is not entitled to raise his/her opinion, everyone is.. I myself do so, my point was that someone of stature of Hayden, Vaughn, Warne are venerated former cricketers (& greats) whose views are respected world over. They should be ultra careful while saying anything because their comments be it serious or silly, make lot of difference as they influence several fans including us. For example, if AUS had bowled better at Nottingham, ENG would have collapsed under 100 too instead of 391 hence it saved that pitch.. so how can you say it were'nt the batsmen who played badly here?? SA team did not complain about pitche & definitely not Indians but yet match referee went ahead with penalising why?? because its not easy to overlook comments made by such big names.!!Such an untoward incident may never have happened had these people shared their opinion in restrained terms instead of calling it "diabolical"

  • Brokensaint on December 6, 2015, 20:15 GMT

    Great call ICC........disgusting pitch and rightfully called as such.

  • BHAARATVARSH on December 6, 2015, 7:48 GMT

    @TOMMYTUCKERSAFFA - Whats the point in making a pitch last 5 days when the SA batters only bat for about 2 sessions?!

  •   Martin Sparkes on December 6, 2015, 0:00 GMT

    It is this doctrine of "fair play" that is ruining test cricket. I am comfortable with a pitch that offers some assistance to the slow bowlers. The fact that the Indian slow bowlers bowled better in the conditions is a mark of how good they were.

    From all accounts the pitch turned but was not dangerous. The fact that the batsmen struggled is a good thing - would rather see that than a bore draw. If you start making all pitches the same then cricket suffers. I for one love watching spin bowling, as it is a contest of wits rather than a battle of brute force.

    33 of 40 wickets fell to spinners - yet nobody complains when 33 of the 40 wickets fall to fast bowling? Double standards I think.

    Maybe the pitch was a little too sporting, but it was the same for both teams and one side batted better and bowled better and won.

  • Diamond2017 on December 5, 2015, 2:16 GMT

    Ok 3rd test pitch was bad. Happy? SA still lost 3-0 if rain didn't come in 2nd test. Period. SA have to go and find out why.

  • DrJez on December 4, 2015, 11:00 GMT

    @ cricfansince91. You ask "How can you comment on a pitch on which neither you nor your team is playing ans have only TV evidence??". I'm sorry, but that is one of the most ill-informed comments on this board, and there have been many. And herein lies the problem. You think that the Test was played just for the benefit of Indian fans?! An exhibition for the Indian fans in which the Indian team is bound to win?! Newsflash. The Test was played for the live audience, who bought tickets, and yes, the TV audience, who actually generate the revenue (via advertising), wherever they are sitting, and whoever they are supporting. So of course we have every right to comment!!

  • Ain_EL_Sabet on December 4, 2015, 2:05 GMT

    t20 wc must have proper pitches

  • dalok on December 3, 2015, 19:35 GMT

    This is what was written after test match in Delhi in 1981 in Almanack

    "This time only nineteen wickets fell and it was dull. At the root of it lay the type of pitch that makes 450-500 the par first-innings score"

    I guess visitors never liked pitches in India no matter which way they went!!

  • Protea92 on December 3, 2015, 17:36 GMT

    Nagpur pitch was a disgrace and ICC have ruled correctly here.

  •   Ramesh Somanathan on December 3, 2015, 15:49 GMT

    Nagpur pitch is a disgrace and was totally unsporting of India to prepare such pitches by quoting home advantage. If India wants to kill Test cricket with the only aim of winning at any cost then let them play on such wickets. India has the ability to play fairly and yet win. But such tactics of doctored pitches where even part time spinners taking bagful of wickets prove that there is no contest involved between bat and ball. Anybody who can just spin or roll over the ball can beat quality batsman and bowl him out. Do not call these games Cricket contest but just spin bowling contest between 2 teams where batsmen has no role, fast bowlers have no roles. Such kind of games will destroy Indian Cricket. At least now we seem to produce a couple genuine fast bowlers but even that will go away. MSD is the Captain who started asking turning pitches and there are any number of critics whose only aim is to be patriotic to the local team and justify such pitches. Cricket is the Looser.