February 26, 2008

Who will rule the rulers?

Why should cricket's administrators get away scot-free for the travesties of Antigua and Karachi?
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Over at last: Younis Khan's marathon comes to an end in Karachi © AFP
 

Barely had Test cricket returned to Pakistan than it endured the foulest of assaults. It would have been fitting if Pakistan had gone on batting all day, because the Test deserved to be remembered for the spurious meaninglessness that it engendered for four-and-a-half days. Five wickets in the last three hours infused a measure of drama that was so artificial that it was embarrassing to watch.

The truth is that cricket lovers in Pakistan, and indeed all over the world, were subjected to a match that defiled the very concept of sport. It couldn't be called a contest and it was unbearable to watch. If Test cricket were a human being, what went on in Karachi would have amounted to culpable homicide.

It was the second time in the space of 12 days that the game has been shamed. With hindsight, it was a mercy that the match in Antigua lasted only 10 balls. The one in Karachi went on and on, robbing the term "Test" of every strand of credibility and dignity; it was only a test of the patience and loyalty of cricket's most vital constituent, the spectator.

It is said that pitch preparation isn't an exact science and even the best efforts are not guaranteed to produce a good pitch. But draining every of ounce of life out of a pitch requires no special effort and it would seem the Pakistani curators have been specialising in the art. The Karachi pitch was not an aberration after all: it was merely an extreme manifestation of what has been the norm.

Let's tell the story in numbers. In the nine Tests played in Pakistan since 2006, 11,754 runs have been scored for the loss of 249 wickets, which returns an average of 47.20 per wicket. A simplistic calculation will make that an average of 470 runs per innings. The corresponding overall world average in that period stands at 34.73. In comparison, India, equally famous for its hospitality towards batsman, produces an average of 38.93, marginally ahead of Australia's 37.62. New Zealand comes across as the most bowler-friendly, with an average of 28.43, and South Africa is marginally behind at 29.03.

If the Test just concluded in Karachi felt insufferable, try this one at the beginning of 2006. Batting first in Lahore, Pakistan ran up a score of 679 for 7 at 4.73 runs per over, with Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan adding 319 runs in 65 overs. India responded with an opening partnership of 410 between VIrender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid at 5.3 runs per over. The misery of this runfest was only curtailed by bad weather, but there was no respite in the next match, in Faisalabad, with the scores reading Pakistan 588 and 490 for 8, India 603 and 21 for no loss. All these totals were finally put into context by the greenish pitch in Karachi, in a match India went to lose by 341 runs after they had Pakistan at 0 for 3 in the first over.

A triple century is a remarkable feat on any kind of wicket. Taken in isolation, Younis' performance is a stirring story. Pakistan were playing their first Test in 16 months; he had just been appointed captain with the specific brief to play saviour; and his team needed to score 444 just to avoid the follow-on. But because two double-hundreds preceded his innings and a 158 came afterwards, it will be a knock remembered mainly for its endurance and not for skill. And it's hard to imagine Kamran Akmal enjoying his 158, of which 98 came against the terrifying combination of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Tharanga Paranavitana and Malinda Warnapura.

 
 
Administrators rarely lose the opportunity these days to present cricket as business. But it is unimaginable that in the corporate world an event as calamitous as the abandonment of a Test match due to administrative negligence would have been allowed to pass without punishment
 

Sehwag, the scorer of two triple-hundreds, recently chose his 201 against Sri Lanka in Galle as his best innings. His explanation was typically candid and shorn of pretence to modesty: never during his triple-hundreds, scored in Multan against Pakistan and in Chennai against South Africa, he had felt that the bowlers could get him out. In Galle, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis posed challenges every over, and only one other Indian batsman managed to go past 50. Cricketers know when they have earned their runs or wickets.

Of course, lessons are unlikely to be learnt from cricket's latest debacles. That's simply because it is unlikely there will be any repercussions. Unlike players, cricket administrators are rarely held to account. Giles Clarke, who was confirmed the ECB's chairman amidst calls for his resignation over his board's dalliance with Allen Stanford, claimed blithely to have received 9000 emails urging him to stay on and save English cricket. Twelve days after a Test was abandoned in Antigua because the custodians of a cricket stadium could not tell a beach from a playing field, the executive committee of the ICC came to the perceptive conclusion that "the responsibility for ensuring the delivery of a venue fit for the purpose of international cricket rested with the host Member board".

Administrators rarely lose the opportunity these days to present cricket as business. But it is unimaginable that in the corporate world an event as calamitous as the abandonment of a Test match due to administrative negligence would have been allowed to pass without punishment.

Players are, rightly, dropped because of non-performance. They are also fined and suspended for misconduct on the field. Batsmen are penalised for lingering on after being given out - even if wrongly so. Some of these transgressions are deemed to bring the game into disrepute. It is staggering that this code of conduct shouldn't apply to those who govern the game. Nothing has brought the game more disrepute in recent times than the events in Antigua and the mockery of a Test in Karachi.

Sambit Bal is the editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • a133936 on February 28, 2009, 19:38 GMT

    with only 10 wickets down for @900 runs in 8 sessions of play, I can't wait to read another "travesty" cry from Mr. Bal...... but wait... he may only write anther article if he is assured that he going to getting similar reaction from West Indian fans as he did from us Pakistani fans!

    Can't wait for Sri Lanka and South Africa's series in India next season for test match and see what kind of pitches BCCI prepares and Mr. Bal's totally "unbiased" opinion about them!

  • jkplatinum25 on February 28, 2009, 17:19 GMT

    1. To the person(s) criticizing the pitch on which Lara scored 375 and 400, please remember that it was on that same pitch, australia were bowled out for 240 (as well as WI) in a test match, West Indies and England played a very competitive test match recently where england needed one wicket in the final 10 overs to win da match

    My point is, antigua's pitch is flat..yes..but that in no way takes away the excitement of the game

    Other flat pitches make test cricket seem boring since they are one-sided run-fest matches and do not have a crowd to enjoy the match

  • Morfi on February 28, 2009, 14:06 GMT

    Just a point for Arsh: Go and have a look where Afridi has scored his hundreds - only 2 out of his 5 were in Pakistan and one of his best was in India. Doesnt say much about Australian wickets if Gillespie scored a double???? - i am surprised at the measures and analogies people use to defend their arguments!

  • Hanzaq_Leeds_UK on February 28, 2009, 12:53 GMT

    As a Pakistani (origin) living in England I can safely say that for the 5 days which Pakistan played Sri Lanka everyone I know watched the game, everyday, never complained about the wicket, in fact they complained about the Pakistani bowling, aggressive fielding tactics, etc. we were too Happy that Test cricket in Pakistan was being played, it's sad reading an article like this, no praise to Pakistan for hosting a game, no praise for Sri Lanka for being the only level headed country realising playing cricket in Pakistan IS SAFE, no praise to Younis Khan on his mammoth effort in his first game as captain!

    Me and my friends in Leeds and Bradford in England kept meeting, for the first 2 days we gave "Mubarak" ("Congrats") for getting smashed for 650 runs in 1 1/2 days...then for the next 3 days we gave "Mubarak" for saving the test match....we loved it, we're Pakistani, we have the right to cricket and anyone denying this right because of the PITCH should hang his head in shame....

  • spog on February 28, 2009, 7:46 GMT

    Ist test was just a practice for Pakistani team as it was coming in test cricket after a long time. I hope pitch in lahore would be fine and Pakistani team is likely to perform nicely there.

  • cricket_all_the_way on February 28, 2009, 6:50 GMT

    Everyone can also post their comments to FACEBOOK CRICINFO Discussion Board. We demand an apology from Sambit Bal for discrediting Pakistani Team for their efforts of 700 runs and 5 Sri Lankan wickets in 2 hours and also calling it an humiliation to Cricket. This biasing in CricInfo Writing by Indian Editor towards Pakistan has brought disappointment to Pakistani Fans and we demand an apology from Sambit Bal. Here is the link of facebook community.

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/topic.php?uid=18429207554&topic=9315

  • CricFan24 on February 28, 2009, 5:50 GMT

    Just a couple of points: 1)Yes, practically all triple hundreds require dead tracks. Both The lara triple plus scores were on tracks where some 5 wickets fell in 3 days during the WI innings.But then it was the great brian lara, so noone said a word about the pathetic ground.Both the very small size and the extremely dead pitch, completely unfit an absolute insult to international bowlers.As a school ground too it would barely pass muster. Just because lara has a higher backlift and more strokes than a younis,jayawerdene etc doesnt make such a farce anymore exciting for any true cricket fans. 2)Having said that,as several people have mentioned no less a person than the great WASIM AKRAM has expressed similar views.So,it follows that all the hyper agitated pakistani comments in here apply equally to Wasim's comments as well.Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

  • prashant1 on February 28, 2009, 3:47 GMT

    Oh, just one more thing. Will all the sensible,rational people using the word "vitriol" in here please STOP doing so?! I can just imagine certain folks scurrying around for their dictionaries wondering what's going on! Please use words like "irrational","rubbish",etc. Or perhaps just some urdu will do.

  • Mr_Cricket. on February 28, 2009, 3:27 GMT

    Note to Vkarthik : Has India never produced a flat wicket in the history of test cricket?? They've probably produced the most flat tracks in the history of the game. India's strength for many years has been its batting so they have to produce flat tracks to accomodate their batsmen. India has never been able to produce any genuine quality pace bolwers due to these flat tracks - this was even pointed out by Waqar Younis a few years ago. And your example of Kanpur is probably the dumbest I have heard. You talk of the tailender Sreesanth like hes some sort Lara or Ponting. The fact that a tailender batted for over an hour doesnt prove anything. Even Jason Gillespie scored a double century once!!! And the Kanpur match was over in THREE days so I dont think you can descibe that as a "good" pitch. All Im going to say is COME ON NEW ZEALAND, won both 20/20's..... Enough said :)

  • Arsh on February 28, 2009, 1:07 GMT

    He says it right.. Pakistan has produced poor wickets over the past 5 years. Makes for poor viewing. No wonder incompetent players like afridi are able to score tons.

  • a133936 on February 28, 2009, 19:38 GMT

    with only 10 wickets down for @900 runs in 8 sessions of play, I can't wait to read another "travesty" cry from Mr. Bal...... but wait... he may only write anther article if he is assured that he going to getting similar reaction from West Indian fans as he did from us Pakistani fans!

    Can't wait for Sri Lanka and South Africa's series in India next season for test match and see what kind of pitches BCCI prepares and Mr. Bal's totally "unbiased" opinion about them!

  • jkplatinum25 on February 28, 2009, 17:19 GMT

    1. To the person(s) criticizing the pitch on which Lara scored 375 and 400, please remember that it was on that same pitch, australia were bowled out for 240 (as well as WI) in a test match, West Indies and England played a very competitive test match recently where england needed one wicket in the final 10 overs to win da match

    My point is, antigua's pitch is flat..yes..but that in no way takes away the excitement of the game

    Other flat pitches make test cricket seem boring since they are one-sided run-fest matches and do not have a crowd to enjoy the match

  • Morfi on February 28, 2009, 14:06 GMT

    Just a point for Arsh: Go and have a look where Afridi has scored his hundreds - only 2 out of his 5 were in Pakistan and one of his best was in India. Doesnt say much about Australian wickets if Gillespie scored a double???? - i am surprised at the measures and analogies people use to defend their arguments!

  • Hanzaq_Leeds_UK on February 28, 2009, 12:53 GMT

    As a Pakistani (origin) living in England I can safely say that for the 5 days which Pakistan played Sri Lanka everyone I know watched the game, everyday, never complained about the wicket, in fact they complained about the Pakistani bowling, aggressive fielding tactics, etc. we were too Happy that Test cricket in Pakistan was being played, it's sad reading an article like this, no praise to Pakistan for hosting a game, no praise for Sri Lanka for being the only level headed country realising playing cricket in Pakistan IS SAFE, no praise to Younis Khan on his mammoth effort in his first game as captain!

    Me and my friends in Leeds and Bradford in England kept meeting, for the first 2 days we gave "Mubarak" ("Congrats") for getting smashed for 650 runs in 1 1/2 days...then for the next 3 days we gave "Mubarak" for saving the test match....we loved it, we're Pakistani, we have the right to cricket and anyone denying this right because of the PITCH should hang his head in shame....

  • spog on February 28, 2009, 7:46 GMT

    Ist test was just a practice for Pakistani team as it was coming in test cricket after a long time. I hope pitch in lahore would be fine and Pakistani team is likely to perform nicely there.

  • cricket_all_the_way on February 28, 2009, 6:50 GMT

    Everyone can also post their comments to FACEBOOK CRICINFO Discussion Board. We demand an apology from Sambit Bal for discrediting Pakistani Team for their efforts of 700 runs and 5 Sri Lankan wickets in 2 hours and also calling it an humiliation to Cricket. This biasing in CricInfo Writing by Indian Editor towards Pakistan has brought disappointment to Pakistani Fans and we demand an apology from Sambit Bal. Here is the link of facebook community.

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/topic.php?uid=18429207554&topic=9315

  • CricFan24 on February 28, 2009, 5:50 GMT

    Just a couple of points: 1)Yes, practically all triple hundreds require dead tracks. Both The lara triple plus scores were on tracks where some 5 wickets fell in 3 days during the WI innings.But then it was the great brian lara, so noone said a word about the pathetic ground.Both the very small size and the extremely dead pitch, completely unfit an absolute insult to international bowlers.As a school ground too it would barely pass muster. Just because lara has a higher backlift and more strokes than a younis,jayawerdene etc doesnt make such a farce anymore exciting for any true cricket fans. 2)Having said that,as several people have mentioned no less a person than the great WASIM AKRAM has expressed similar views.So,it follows that all the hyper agitated pakistani comments in here apply equally to Wasim's comments as well.Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

  • prashant1 on February 28, 2009, 3:47 GMT

    Oh, just one more thing. Will all the sensible,rational people using the word "vitriol" in here please STOP doing so?! I can just imagine certain folks scurrying around for their dictionaries wondering what's going on! Please use words like "irrational","rubbish",etc. Or perhaps just some urdu will do.

  • Mr_Cricket. on February 28, 2009, 3:27 GMT

    Note to Vkarthik : Has India never produced a flat wicket in the history of test cricket?? They've probably produced the most flat tracks in the history of the game. India's strength for many years has been its batting so they have to produce flat tracks to accomodate their batsmen. India has never been able to produce any genuine quality pace bolwers due to these flat tracks - this was even pointed out by Waqar Younis a few years ago. And your example of Kanpur is probably the dumbest I have heard. You talk of the tailender Sreesanth like hes some sort Lara or Ponting. The fact that a tailender batted for over an hour doesnt prove anything. Even Jason Gillespie scored a double century once!!! And the Kanpur match was over in THREE days so I dont think you can descibe that as a "good" pitch. All Im going to say is COME ON NEW ZEALAND, won both 20/20's..... Enough said :)

  • Arsh on February 28, 2009, 1:07 GMT

    He says it right.. Pakistan has produced poor wickets over the past 5 years. Makes for poor viewing. No wonder incompetent players like afridi are able to score tons.

  • VVedsen on February 28, 2009, 0:44 GMT

    Writing for the heck of it is meaningless if it does not present the right picture.

    A match was being held in Pak at long last. A wicket was given to the teams to play and they played to the best of their abilities. Once SL raised 644, should Pak have collapsed right away. The captain put up a brave face and took his team to safety. When the match ended SL were 23/5, another half day of game and it could have ended as the greatest game ever had Pak eked out the most improbable win. Having put up the score with bolwers like M&M, SL should have aggressively defended their score, but they failed to do so.If there was a failure, this one was.

    I request Crficinfo to really audit the articles before putting up on the net to continue its credibility.

  • SaifQazi on February 27, 2009, 21:09 GMT

    Mr Bal, not too long ago, a cricket match was played in india in poor facilities, on an under prepared wicket against india where they were losin a home series. for that kinda wicket even the ICC had to issue a warnin to the BCCI, can u recall nethin Mr Bal..?? even match referee had to say that the pitch was not of test match standards. match between India vs South Africa in Kanpur on 11th April 2008!!

    nt even a year ago, i still rememba that pathetic wicket on which a cricket match was played, unlike Antigua n the only difference b/w Karachi n Kanpur was that karachi's test match ended in a draw n in Kanpur, there was a result (with INDIA winning). infact forget abt that, the indian curators managed to prepare twice in a series wickets which were a shame to test cricket. the wicket for Chennai was also no different to one prepared in Karachi n too ended in a draw! wicket preparation depends on alot of uncontrollable factors, weather, soil n etc Mr Bal. u know betta than me 4 sure!

  • tayabasif on February 27, 2009, 19:15 GMT

    An Indian advocating bowler friendly wickets? hahahahahahaha hahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahah

    It's like Americans advocating socialism .....

  • StreetCricketer on February 27, 2009, 19:11 GMT

    Good article! IMO, cricket would be better off with someone keeping the authorities honest... at least a little. It is sad to see folks getting all defensive about it. Both, WI and Pak have been praised here as well.

  • mmansoor on February 27, 2009, 19:09 GMT

    Mr. Sambit,

    What is up with these posters defending you using words like 'vitriolic'? No one uses these kind of words anymore, but what a coincidence, we find numerous poster defending Mr. Sambit, using same kind of outdated language. Mr. Sambit, honestly, do you have more than one account ID on cricinfo? or are these all of your classmates, where you were taught cricket (or lack thereof)? because all the posts from members from a certain country, who are supporting you, are with the same idea, same vocabulary. Coincidence? I think not.

  • endofageofaquarius on February 27, 2009, 18:31 GMT

    Just an observation. Almost every post here in support of Mr Bal with the need jerk 'oh so disbelief' of those 'irrational' Pakistani comments - have a favourite word - vitriol!! Are you all in the same room reading of the same hymn sheet by any chance, as you type your comments. Peeeleeeease, spare us your false indignities and pretences....it is so transparent.

  • endofageofaquarius on February 27, 2009, 17:08 GMT

    Mr Bal... Why the over emotive language to cast Pakistan in yet another isolated category? There is enough cricket worries there with you adding to it. You have a valid message but why ruin that message with your delivery. Your piece reads like an emotional rant and all the good analysis you have done is lost in the mush. Also, the other writer is correct Karachi was not like Antigua, its probably comparable as a polar extreme of Headingly where on occasions the power base has been seen to shift entirely to the bowlers. I hope you will write more objectively in the future.

  • mmansoor on February 27, 2009, 16:17 GMT

    It looks like Mr. Samit Bal had to invite some of his friends to post on this article for his own saving grace.

    After reading this article, it is safe to say that Mr. Samit Bal has no knowledge in cricket let alone knowledge in sports journalism. If you can use word big words in a sentence properly should not automatically qualify you with a job in cricinfo. I believe Mr. Samit Bal's really dream was to work in BBC where he can use words like "homicide", etc.

    Going along the same tangent as one of the other posters, I wonder what Mr. Samit Bal's reaction is to the DLF Maximum Six or other farces introduced in world cricket by BCCI, just because of thier lust for money, and having no value for the game. Or I wonder if you are going to disvalue Brian Lara's 400 on a flatter antigua pitch, just because his first name wasnt Sachin? Mr. Samit Bal, I request you, and your friends to please just comment on Indian cricket matters, as you know nothing about world cricket.

    Thank you.

  • tayabasif on February 27, 2009, 16:12 GMT

    "Administrators rarely lose the opportunity these days to present cricket as business. " So true .....

    "But it is unimaginable that in the corporate world an event as calamitous as the abandonment of a Test match due to administrative negligence would have been allowed to pass without punishment." ..... Or a World Cup Semifinal for that matter !

    "Nothing has brought the game more disrepute in recent times than the events in Antigua and the mockery of a Test in Karachi." ..... What about ICL and BCCI. Muhammad Yousuf, Shane Bond , ring a bell ?!, 8-1 field, anybody ....

    But I can't believe that an INDIAN is critizing a pitch for being too batsmen friendly ............... Cummon Have you forgotton the pitch on Sehwag made triple Century against SA . . . If the pitch at Karachi was a dead duck , then the pitch prepared for Mr Sehwag was a "molested duck"

  • Wild_Type on February 27, 2009, 15:31 GMT

    Lol! A warning to anyone who is plans to read the comments for this story:

    Don't expect any rational criticism or analysis of Sambit Bal's well rounded arguments.

    Do expect the storm of idiotic vitriol that is sadly inevitable when an Indian dares to criticize anything remotely Pakistani!

  • Vkarthik on February 27, 2009, 14:23 GMT

    Rohan, Most of the pakistan kids easily get wound up even on a sensible and objective article. This one is objective. He rightly pointed out how Pakistan pitches have been graveyard. Don't expect them to read the article fully let alone comprehend fully. Hope Sambit doesn't pay attention to these vitriolic responses and continue highlighting these kind of things.

  • rssampat on February 27, 2009, 14:08 GMT

    I agree with Mr.Bal. This is about sports and accountability. Cricket is a tussle between Bat and ball. It's about Batsmen's skills versus bowlers speed, swing and guile. This kind of pitches kills the sport element. The people want to see contest between gladatior's, between sportsmen who display their skill with bat and ball. What do these types of pitches do?? They make the supposedly equal contest a lop sided one where bowlers have to just come to the crease and hurl a ball which neither swings, bounces or spins, comes straight on after pitching at a comfortable pace and height. Quite a terrifying prospect?? Like Geoff Boycott say's "My MOOMM could score a century here". Pitches like this kill the sport. Sport evokes passions.The sport is entertainment and the public pay and watch with passion. What happen's when people are cheated of their Passion??

  • prashant1 on February 27, 2009, 13:46 GMT

    Bravo Mr.Bal! Keep it up! It is obvious from the reactions that truth hurts. Almost looks like the Pak cricket board officials themselves, or their sponsored fellows are using "screen names" to vent their frustration. AKRAM too just lambasted the pak pitches. But you dont here too much pak frustrated reaction about that ,do you?

  • PakSixer on February 27, 2009, 11:58 GMT

    Talking about stats and number eh? Where you on vacation when Sehwag scored his triple? Because I didnt see any bashing article from you or anyone else.

    You said that Sehwag┬┤s favourite innings was his 200+ against Sri lanka. You missed Younis┬┤interview after his knock of 313 when he said that his favourite inning what the 260+ against india in banglore.

    And one more thing. To score a 300 in the first innings is far more easier than score a 300 in the second innings when the opposition has scored 600+ runs and u havent played any test for over a year. All credit goes to Younis for his stunning knock, no matter what u write!

  • gavbergin on February 27, 2009, 10:48 GMT

    It always seems illogical when it's said that significant cricketing acheivements, such as Younis's triple hundred, are somehow 'devalued' by helpful conditions, poor bowling or, in this case, a docile featherbed of a pitch made for scoring runs. If it is so easy to score on this pitch, why then doesn't everyone on both teams score 300? The answer is that not many batsmen, even at Test level, have the patience, stamina, concentration and-obviously- extremely high levels of technical ability possessed by Younis Khan. It seems to me that the rest of the cricket world always finds an excuse to snipe at and disrespect the Pakistanis, while bowing to every whim of the Indians. The reason for this latest snub, following their ostracism from the Test arena last year, is depressingly basic: there just ain't the bucks in Pakistan. While the PCB doesn't help by ridiculously banning the world's best,Mohammad Yousouf, from the Test team-being deprived of the drama of Pakistan Tests is truly sad.

  • A.S.K. on February 27, 2009, 10:33 GMT

    I'm sure that Mr Bal wouldn't have a whinge if his beloved Sachin or Virender scored 300 on the pitch - yes, it's a different story then, it's all about the batsman's class, isn't it - nothing to do with a "road" of a pitch!

  • Vkarthik on February 27, 2009, 10:14 GMT

    Other countries do have dead pitch. But not all of them in a given series. Every single pitch in pakistan is a dead pitch where both teams score 500 plus runs easily. Even Akram recently said dead pitches in Pakistan will drive away teams which is true to some extent. Who would want to field for 200 plus overs and bat for 200 overs. It is pathetic. Hope there are some standardizations for the pitch.

  • kamran09 on February 27, 2009, 10:01 GMT

    Man this is height of biasness towards Pakistan cricket! I cant imagine how you can even think of comparing what happened in antigua to the "test match" in Karachi? I think you should be ashamed of yourself by posting such an article and bringing the game in direpute! Pitches like the one we saw in karachi have been seen throughout the subcontinent and such test matches have been played many a times..It can be said that it was not an interesting match, not something that can pull crowds and thus was not one of those matches which can entertain crowds in this T20 era..that would have been a fair enough argument...and thus something needs to be done to make such pitches better... BUT it is utter nonsense to compare it with antigua where a match couldnt even be started! and to say that it bought DISREPUTE and SHAME to the game...height of biasness! u seriously need to check the meaning of what these words mean or else just stop writing man let alone writing about cricket!

  • akafen1985 on February 27, 2009, 7:46 GMT

    The pitch in Karachi was embarrassing especially considering Pakistan's current standing in the game. Featherbeds are no longer a Pakistan problem. For the last 4 years there has been no result to a Lord's test match. Hmmm I wonder why. Cricket Boards, Television, and the ICC think this is good for the game just like owners and players thought steroids was good for baseball. Except in New Zealand and South Africa pitches are flat. Even in Australia pitches have become flatter, I wonder why. Batting insecurities one feels. Why Lords? England don't need a defeat to start any summer.

  • Rohan1 on February 27, 2009, 5:54 GMT

    I just wonder how many of the people spewing their illogical (and actually quite expected )vitriol in here have actually READ the full article.

  • cricpolitics on February 27, 2009, 5:33 GMT

    Yes the pitch was slow in Karachi and piles of runs were scored but you just can not justify the comparison between Karachi test and the Antigua incident. A test was played in Karachi which ended in draw and was recoginized by the ICC and had been recorded in the record books like many other drawn tests in the world where as Antigua was a total failure. The writer's comment that "Nothing has brought the game more disrepute in recent times than the events in Antigua and the mockery of a Test in Karachi." is an extreme one as for as the Karachi test is concerned.

    The real mockery of test cricket in recent times is when a T20 competition is called a cricket event and when international players prefer T20 over test matches.

  • cricket4shafiq on February 27, 2009, 5:24 GMT

    Shame Shame Mr.Sambit Bal...After this article you should leave the editorial ship. Due to your ex-fine analysis, when you are normal, you can write about cricket. Anyways, a great attempt to shift people attention from Mark richardson (NZL)article to this pakistan bashing.

  • prashant1 on February 27, 2009, 5:21 GMT

    Apologies Mr.Bal. Its not just the journos but the regular fans who lose "consistency" at times. Further to my previous comment, someone said Laras triples were sooo much better because he is so much more "flamboyant" than poor Younis and so how dare we compare their big scores! So, i guess i was right. The simple fact is that if Younis had played the exact same innings as he did in St.Johns (given the extremely tiny ground that it is,and super featherbed,deader than a dodo)instead of Karachi, he may well have gone past the "record".

  • AllaboutPakistan on February 27, 2009, 5:19 GMT

    Well Well Well what can i say just had to read the first three lines to figure out that this was written by some lonely INDIAN sitting in his mama room. anyways did even thought it was worth going through the whole article, may be this was the last article i will read on cricinfo. I have to find myself a new cricket site now.

    I would however like to ask people to be a little less biased and stop showing there hatred towards Pakistani, if we rock that not our fault it just comes naturally to us

  • cruisecontrol on February 27, 2009, 5:16 GMT

    I get Bal's point and I don't think he's being parochial or India-centric here as some people mistakenly suspect. That said, I do wish he (and the other Cricinfo writers) do come out strong against the myopic, power-drunk, and yes - let me spell it out - STUPID BCCI. Forget magnanimity, BCCI has neither a sense of historical context nor ANY global or strategic outlook - even for the benefit of India if that's what they believe they are working for. It is an embarrassment to many Indians like myself too. Just look at who's loaded at the bases: Pawar, Jaitley ... a the other slimy motley crew. I suspect the problem for Bal and the others at Cricinfo is the same dilemma that confounds the owners of Cricinfo and the other boards - BCCI has castrating clutch hold on all of them. But something's gotta give. It will. It's only a matter of time. I doubt this is going to be printed but here it is anyway. That said, if you work for BCCI, may you live to see it rot away.

  • worldaudience on February 27, 2009, 1:24 GMT

    I am astonished to see so many extreme comments by some of the fans over here . What Mr Bal said have a point. Now a days audience r not coming to stands ,i was disappointed to only 6000+ crowd to such a exciting match of Aus ~SA . It is also horrifying to empty stnads in PAK ~SL match. I personally never miss any cricket contest . But after watching the Pak~Srilanka match, for first two days i just followed the scores at the end of the day. I wonder anybody in this world have seen the complete test match!!!!Every one loves contest,what is the meaning of playing a test match if the result is known from two days.What kind of pitch that is in which Bowlers like Gul,Kaneria,Murali,Mendis,Vass look like Pie-Chukers????

  • Kreacher_Rocks on February 27, 2009, 0:27 GMT

    I find it funny that people posting here keep criticizing the Kanpur match of last year as a rank turner / dust-bowl. Did you guys watch the match? Here is the link: http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/indvrsa/engine/match/332913.html. Runs were hard to score, yet South Africa managed 265 in their first innings and India managed 325. Then South Africa showed a shocking lack of application in their second innings and left India with a fourth innings target of 62, which they achieved with ease.

    Seems like the main objection that people have is that an Indian has criticized a dull pitch and that pitch happens to be in Pakistan. Here is a Cricinfo article with an Indian criticizing an Indian pitch, though, I must admit, the writer was Siddhartha Vaidyanathan, not Sambit Bal: http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/indvrsa/content/story/344523.html.

    The point is, a dead pitch is a dead pitch - whether it is in India or Pakistan

  • sallapalla on February 26, 2009, 23:49 GMT

    seems a little overblown to say a flat pitch is bringing the game into 'disrepute'. wasnt pretty, but it certainly wasnt a 'mockery' of a game.

    Isnt the 'DLF Maximum' six a more accurate reflection of a 'mockery' being made of the game? The editorial hypocrisy on this website astounds me sometimes.

  • shaun3 on February 26, 2009, 23:47 GMT

    "Assault", "Defiled", "robbing", "homicide"...I seem to have lost your point in the middle of all this loaded language. Am I to fear for my life??...

  • toronto181 on February 26, 2009, 23:33 GMT

    Incidents like this have happened before and cricket have survived. Maybe you were a kid then. I dont think its a big deal as you web editors think it is. You are a good writer, but in the future make better use of your writing.

  • TahirMukhtar on February 26, 2009, 23:30 GMT

    Absolute poor selection of words by Sambit Bal to bring to our notice a small issue. But thats how he is, I guess!!

  • leftarmspinner on February 26, 2009, 23:03 GMT

    Oh my God... This article is ridiculous... I absolutely agree with a133936. It was just one Test match with a flat pitch and he thinks it has put Test cricket, a sport with over a 100 years of history, at a credibility risk... since when has the term TEST cricket started losing its credibility for a slow game!!! I mean jesus, Mr. Bal needs to understand that Test cricket has had its share of slow games and that is one of its charms. SriLanka batted to make nearly a thousand runs!!!

    It was "embarrasing" for him to watch a team come out to the center and try to rip through a batting line up on the last day. You are going to disqualify Kamal's joy just because the opposing captain chose to try out new bowlers....

    I dont think this is an india-pak issue....I think its just a commentator who just had to write something, probably due to contractual reasons with the website.

  • gulliver on February 26, 2009, 22:22 GMT

    Sambit Bal was not comparing pitches prepared by PCB vs pitches prepared by BCCI - he rightly commented on conditions that made two recent Tests non events as contests. The game of cricket was not served by either. Instead of trying to defend these Tests, people should be writing to their boards to pull up their socks and prepare better pitches, grounds and facilities.

  • Alphabaig on February 26, 2009, 20:38 GMT

    This article was intended to be about the accountability of administrators until Mr.Bal found out that Younis Khan, a Pakistani, had scored a triple century. Then he set out to belittle the achievements of Pakistani batsmen giving all the credit of Pakistani fight back to the pitch. The statistics of runs per wicket is probably right but while mentioning Pak vs Ind. seies in 2006 he forgot all about the series in 2007 between these two teams in which 1600 or more runs were scored in the last two tests.

    Furthermore, triple centuries are not all about pitches. The quality of batting and bowling also has its influence. Surely, no one expects part timers like Kumar Sangakkara to get wickets even if they were bowling on most bowler-friendly pitches of NewZealand.

    The test match in Karachi says a lot about captaincy. We all can see who used part timers to kill time and who made something interesting out of nothing. Hats off! to Yonus for his captaincy and batting.

  • Morfi on February 26, 2009, 20:19 GMT

    Just because pakistan performed well, which no one was expecting it to, doesnt mean it is because of the pitch. The pitches have always been bat-friendly in Pakistan and of all people, Pakistani cricketers are the ones criticising them the most. But its not the only place where the pitches 'have life sucked out' as Mr. Bal suggests. Bat-friendly is one thing, and a dustbowl is another where the ball doesnt bounce and spins at 90 degrees like in India. If Mr. Bal wants to 'talk in numebrs' please also cite the no. of matches that have had a result and how many that have been drawn in Khi due to high scores. The point i guess is that yes, the pitch was bad, but Mr. Bal has gone way overboard in ridiculing it. If Pakistan had lost the way people expected after 644, it would have been a different story - no mention of a bad pitch, right?? and discounting a 300 by saying Sewag's 200 at Galle was more import? Sure it is not only the pitch but the circumstances that make an innings import!

  • u0jh on February 26, 2009, 20:15 GMT

    Indian 'rockstars' who I am sorry to say are overhyped beyond belief, despite Wasim Akram's teaching, still average in the mid 30's. India should produce green pitches to suit their medium pacers (who model their bowling actions on Imran, Wasim and Waqar)so they can bring those averages down and justify some of the hype. They neither look like stars nor bowl like them, despite the imitation.

  • pradeep_dealwis on February 26, 2009, 20:00 GMT

    the fact is Younus played brilliantly, as did Jayawardena and Samaraweera., Despite each of them were given more lives than a cat by the fielders and the umpires.

    But as far that pitch is concerned, it made way for one of the most boring tests in a very long time.comparing it to Antigua is unfair, but it is definitely nothing to be pleased about.

    Sri Lanka's 2nd innings debacle was neither because the pitch was "real" or the Pakistani's bowled particularly well...it was because of they were probably bored to death.

  • jokerbala on February 26, 2009, 18:52 GMT

    What is wrong in calling a dead pitch a dead pitch.I don't understand why readers have to bring up questions like What about Chennai? What about Kanpur? What about Bangalore? I am sure those issues were brought up when those matches were played.Why do you have to become so defensive?I really hope the next test is Interesting ,for the sake of the viewing public.It was simply a sad state of affairs to see empty stands even when Pakistan were batting on the third day.And do you even have to bring in Brian Lara?No disrespect to Younis,people remember Lara's 400 simply because it was and still stands as a world record and I'm sure all cricket lovers would agree he is a much more attractive and flamboyant batsman than Younis.

  • Vkarthik on February 26, 2009, 18:18 GMT

    Kanpur pitch was a good pitch. Even Sreesanth batted for more than an hour. That was some whining from South Africa. Pakistan fans are insecure. They want cricinfo to glorify them 24/7 otherwise they will not sleep. Excellent article sambhit. Keep it up. You are dead right Pakistan is set out to destroy cricket with these pitches.

  • CricketCrazy19 on February 26, 2009, 17:50 GMT

    It seems that the commentors below are more biased than the writer himself. Why is it that we always catch the wrong end of the sword. The inherent problem which Mr. Bal highlighted here is not which country made the pitch; The problem here is to try and solve it in such that it won't happen again. If every country tries to make a pitch suitable to their own players, it will kill this awesome sport. Agree to the fact that all boards have made such an error, but does that mean all have right to do it?? This article should be considered as an eye-opener for ICC and it should implement some steps so that it won't happen again. And to all the furious pakistani fans below, I'd like to say that it was Mr. Bal who wrote India should tour Pakistan even after the terrorist attacks in India (http://content-www.cricinfo.com/ci/content/story/380369.html). Chill out guys..

  • a133936 on February 26, 2009, 17:45 GMT

    To: cranaweera No... nobody is defending the pitch. We are just criticizing Mr. Bal having double standards for not saying a word when BCCI prepares similar or prepares Kanpur types pitches....for which even ICC slaps on BCCI's wrists. Care to show us one article from Mr. Bal where he bashed BCCI for the same subject. I think, he is the one who is picking on PCB because it is just "Pakistan Cricket Board".

    We are also criticizing Mr. Bal for going OVERBOARD in his criticism of the PCB .... by calling Karachi pitch a travesty and saying it brought he game to disrepute.

  • Vkarthik on February 26, 2009, 17:35 GMT

    Pakistan is known to produce the flattest tracks in the world. Everyone can go there and score 500 runs. Other countries also have some flat pitches. But not like Pakistan. It gives zero chance for any result. They had genuine quicks who could take pitch out of the equation sometimes if not all the time. But now they don't have quality bowlers so both teams end up making 600 runs.

  • wanderer1 on February 26, 2009, 17:27 GMT

    I don't think many disagree that the pitch was dull and unsporting. The Karachi pitch was not conducive to good cricket. The Antigua pitch was unplayable, there's a large degree of separation between the two.

    The Pakistani's themselves have come out and said that they will look into the pitch matter in the future. The new administration is gonna have to change the Karachi pitch up, because it has always, at least for the past decade, been a flat pitch. Couple that with the unwillingness of teams to play in Rawalpindi or outside of Lahore/Karachi, and some of Pakistan's best pitches in terms of bowling are outside of Karachi.

    If we're gonna start punishing drastically unsporting pitches, then we've crossed a very fine line. Think of like this, the Karachi pitch if it was to be used to stage an ODI or 20/20 would have been perfect, good batting track, 300+ scores. For Test matches the mentality changes, and there's that fine line, between a genuinely bad pitch and an unsporting one.

  • cric8111 on February 26, 2009, 17:07 GMT

    Let us not blame Sambit Bal.

    Cricinfo has usually very little good to say about Zimbabwe and Pakistan so this article is not entirely out of character. Brown man's burden!

    Yes the pitch was not the best but Murali and Mendis have skills that sees them getting wickets on all sorts of pitches without too many problems.

    Until the recent India v SL series of matches where SL showed its bowling is in decline and it cannot depend on Vaas, Murali, and Mendis and the rest of the supporting cast are third rate.

    The pitch at the ARG was full of runs too but because it ended in a nailbiting finish no one bashed the WI board about it. And notice how the fiasco at the sand pits prior to ARG was forgotten until Sambit Bal decided to compare sand pits with batsmen friendly pitches.....and unfairly paint them with the same brush.

  • king1985 on February 26, 2009, 16:58 GMT

    Well first of all 2 thumbs up to "a133936" for showing Mr. Bal, what a sorry piece of writing he did, though i like his writing a lot and read it all the time, but this does not make any sense to me. Test matches are not T20's that you get results every single time! This truly is a discriminatory piece that Mr.Bal wrote, singling out 2 tests out of tons of other tests which were played in India, Australia, England, SA, NZ ...which were simply rubbish and worthless to watch! I will see how many times Mr.Bal will write when India will host a Test Series and the pitch will be a bigger dead rubber. Well, history shows, he never wrote a word about dead flat tracks before when India SA or India Australia clashed in India.....I am sorry Mr. Bal but i think you owe an apology to Pakistani Cricket Fans for writing a discriminatory article like this one.

  • KingOwl on February 26, 2009, 16:11 GMT

    Why the Pakistani fans seem to be defending the pitch is beyond comprehension. Is it because Mr. Bal is Indian? What a sad state of affiars if that were the case. The fans should remember that the Pakistani captain was the biggest critic of the pitch. By the way, SL lost 5 wickets because they were bored to death with the whole miserable match.

  • inswing on February 26, 2009, 16:01 GMT

    Right on. Administrators have no responsibility, because they are the ones who decide who will be responsible for what. When things go wrong, administrators pass the blame to some other invisible administrators. Some rules about pitch quality are needed. For example, if more than 1200 or less than 200 runs are scored in the first innings, the host board has to pay a heavy fine to ICC. An unplayable pitch like Antigua should carry even heavier penalty for the board. The last test in Pakistan is simply an example. Similar bad pitches have been made in India, WI, NZ, Aus, and previously in Pak. It does not matter where it is. The problem, of course, is that to pass any such law, the boards will have to vote for fining themselves if they screw up. This ain't happening.

  • a133936 on February 26, 2009, 15:34 GMT

    "Nothing has brought the game more disrepute in recent times than the events in Antigua and the mockery of a Test in Karachi."

    Wow... this the height of negative journalism!

    Not that I enjoy high scoring drawn test matches, but what did you think of following high scoring games? You did not whine after these matches; http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/statsguru/engine/match/332911.html http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/statsguru/engine/match/345671.html

    Here are some stats for you! Since 2003 - 22 Test in Pakistan of which 7 have been drawn. (32%) Since 2003 - 29 Tests in India of which 13 have been drawn. (45%)

    At least PCB won't be investigated by ICC for under-preparing Karachi pitch like BCCI was --- for preparing this Ahmedabad pitch; http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/statsguru/engine/match/332912.html

    Your article sounded like a 3-year old doing something to get a negative attention..... and I think, you got plenty of it!

  • Siddhuw on February 26, 2009, 15:33 GMT

    "But it is unimaginable that in the corporate world an event as calamitous as the abandonment of a Test match due to administrative negligence would have been allowed to pass without punishment."

    Sambit, Sambit, where have you been!? Haven't you seen how accountable the bankers have been after grinding the rest of our noses in the toilet bowl, and then taking the taxpayers' money?

    There is no accountability in this world if you are powerful enough, Sambit.

  • Ahmedhela on February 26, 2009, 15:22 GMT

    Its really shocking to read an article from such a website!!!!!!Sambit mate u cannot compare Antigua where 10 balls were played with Karachi's test match where srilanka lost 5 quick wickets in the last session.. I guess he should be properly trained before giving his idiotic theories!!!!!!!

  • omer_admani on February 26, 2009, 14:35 GMT

    The article is quite right to criticize the Karachi pitch-- there wasn't anything in it for the fast bowlers. More importantly, however, the writer should identify these sorts of pitches as a trend. The pitch on which Sehwag made his tripple century in Multan was even flatter. While the ball moved a bit a few times on this pitch, and the pitch was much slower which made scoring difficult if the fielding captain applied attritional tactics, the ball cam sweet on bat and to the bondary in Multan without any sideways movement from the pitch.

    Similarly, when Pakistan visited India, the final two test matches were played on farcial pitches. India twice made something in the order of 600 and never crept close to winning the match-- barring a farcial end it would have been to the third test had Pakistan collapsed in the final session.

    The pitches in the subcontinent need more regulation by the respective boards and the ICC.

  • Khawer_Subzwari on February 26, 2009, 14:13 GMT

    Mr. Bal,

    Would you please take the trouble of thinking clearly before you put things in writing.

    The dictionary defines 'disrepute' as "To bring into disreputation; to hold in dishonor".

    You did not give even one FACT how did the pitch in Karachi, Pakistan brought the game into disrepute/dishonor.

    Regards....Khawer

  • NadeemRizvi on February 26, 2009, 14:01 GMT

    I was wondering bowlers of our age are not capable of bowling, I don't consider a pitch should be a barrier between someone's skills. If someone is a world class bowler he should be equally good on any type of pitch he is playing. In second innings Pakistani bowlers were more disciplined, which shows there was some life in the pitch.

  • ILoveTestCricket on February 26, 2009, 14:00 GMT

    I agree with Pakistan fans here and blame Mr.Bal to single out Karachi track. Is it first such test that he has seen?? He should not have mixed Antigua fiasco with Karachi track. Why he is raising it only now. Why he doesn't say that Murali and Mendis were put into perspective by Younus? Murali is world class bowler and he could grab only one wicket for 150 odd runs. True world class bowlers should shine on any pitch of the world.

  • ILoveTestCricket on February 26, 2009, 13:47 GMT

    How Mr. Bal is comparing two cases where one was genuine negligence of a host board and other was genuine technical issue. It sounds preposterous to compare both the cases. I remember as dead pitches as Karachi in every single country except England and NZ where weather plays a significant role in keeping them lively(to some extent soil character in Aus/SA). How Mr. Bal expect pitches in subcontinent and WI to be as live as other countries where weather is so hot and dry. They can only produce spin friendly pitches and it is also considered unsporty by certain cricket pundits. In nutshell I found it very silly article and do not expect from Mr.Bal.

  • omarkc on February 26, 2009, 13:32 GMT

    "Five wickets in the last three hours infused a measure of drama that was so artificial that it was embarrassing to watch"

    It was not "artificial", nor was it "embarrassing" to watch. It was real. Nothing was manufactured to provide entertainment or drama like is in other parts of the world where cheerleaders and bollywood tunes are packaged as cricketing entertainment and where sixes are renamed (citibank moment of success).

    that passage of play reminded me of the india pakistan 2006 karachi test. it wasn a moment which was born out of the team;s self belief that they could still win the match. imagine if instead of sohail khan mohammad asif was playing and bowling like he bowled against sri lanka in sri lanka in 2005 or against india in karachi 2006.

  • surtee on February 26, 2009, 13:22 GMT

    pity that Mr Bal needed to bracket Antigua with Karachi only because Karachi happened to be a Pakistan city ,if this had happened in India and Tendulkar or Harbajan had scored triple century mMr bal would have not written this,instead he would have been praising and singing JAI HO.alas please take us Pakistani in stride for our players are also world class irrespective of dead or doctored pitches.

  • omarkc on February 26, 2009, 13:10 GMT

    tests in pakistan since 2003: 22 of which 7 have been drawn (32%) test in india since 2003: 29 of which 13 have been drawn (45%)

    where was mr bal when lara scored 400?, where was mr bal for the last 2 matches of the india pakistan 2007 test series? more tests have been drawn than produce results and unsportive tracks can be found througout history, why doesnt mr bal talk about them?

  • Hafeez_Malik on February 26, 2009, 13:03 GMT

    The Karachi pitch was a potentially result oriented pitch, we could not blame the pitch, as the result was not produced because of poor fielding by both the teams and poor umpiring by both the umpires. In this match all the players who scored more than 200 were given on average 04 lives by fielders and umpires in shape of dropped catches and poor decisions. Test cricket is not about only winning and loosing but to save a test is also part of it, we should applaud Younas for his brave inning in front of greats of modern age bowling, Vass and Murli. Well done Younas!!!

  • omarkc on February 26, 2009, 12:50 GMT

    if karachi 2009 was a shame then what about the pitch india managed to roll out in kanpur 2008 in a desperate bid to not lose the series?. tht pitch was so heavilly loaded in india's favour tht players like sehwag could have singlehandedly bowled india to victory. at least the karachi pitch treated everyon equally. kanpur 2008 was clear cut cheating mate, why doesnt the author mention that pitch as a travesty?

  • CricketCrazy19 on February 26, 2009, 12:26 GMT

    This article isn't criticising Pakistan. Sambit Bal rightly pointed out the problems with the other cricketing boards as well including England. The point he is trying to make is that ICC is the main cuprit. If players pay price for negligence and misconduct, why not administrators. If BCCI manipulates something even they should be penalised and ICC should take care of that. If such situation persists the days are not far when we would discuss the obituary of Test cricket and you all know who to blame for!!

  • Wakeybeancounter on February 26, 2009, 12:19 GMT

    How daft comparing the utter farce of Antigua with a batsman friendly pitch.No doubt if both teams had been rolled over and the match finished by tea on the 2nd day that would be good for test cricket.It seems everything has to be 20/20 style these days.May I suggest therefore that in future Mr Bal says what he has to say in say 20 words so as not to bore us all silly!.

  • Sudzz on February 26, 2009, 11:54 GMT

    To all Pakistani's that are feeling that this article is criticising Pakistan cricket and belittling Pakistan Crickets achievements the answer is in the paragraph below reproduced from the article itself.

    I don't think the intent at any stage was to talk low about Pakistan or Younis's achievements, the author just put it into context.

    A triple century is a remarkable feat on any kind of wicket. Taken in isolation, Younis' performance is a stirring story. Pakistan were playing their first Test in 16 months; he had just been appointed captain with the specific brief to play saviour; and his team needed to score 444 just to avoid the follow-on. But because two double-hundreds preceded his innings and a 158 came afterwards, it will be a knock remembered mainly for its endurance and not for skill. And it's hard to imagine Kamran Akmal enjoying his 158, of which 98 came against the terrifying combination of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Tharanga Paranavitana and Malinda Warnapura.

  • wanderer1 on February 26, 2009, 11:18 GMT

    The problem is simply you're comparing an unsporting track to one that was genuinely bad, unplayable and slightly dangerous.

    Should India be fined when they produce rank turners which support their spin bowlers? Not any different to flat wickets which support the batsmen. I do believe Pakistan should produce more bowler friendly pitches, (other pitches in the country are conducive to fast bowling but for security reasons are not allowed to stage matches). I remember when India produced a rank turner against South Africa in their last home series between the two teams, and there was outrage that should a pitch be made. But the fact was that the Indians were well within their right to produce a pitch. It was their prerogative. Was it a "bad" pitch, not at all, unsporting, probably yes. But were they in their rights to produce such a pitch, yes.

    The Antigua pitch was a farce, the bowlers couldn't bowl simple as that. The Karachi pitch was unsporting at worst and dull at best.

  • Pak_Dost on February 26, 2009, 11:09 GMT

    I am surprised that in the first two days when Sri Lankan batsmen were making hay, there was no mention of a dead pitch but all one heard was an indisciplined bowling attack. When Pakistan came to bat and made a mockery of all the pre-match predictions about a collapse against the experienced Sri Lankan attack, comments about a 'dead pitch' came to life!!

  • ExCric on February 26, 2009, 10:27 GMT

    Spot on. One needs to call a dead duck for what it is, its got nothing to do with nationality. Karachi was a dead wicket! period!!, a test cricket killer!!!!. Some of the messages posted by pakistanis complain about why matches played in India were not brought up. Well, I am sure when this happened in India there would have been a few articles from cricinfo criticising them at that point of time. Nobody lets go of a chance to bash BCCI. But this time it did not happen in India but in Pakistan, so thats why this article is about the Karachi wicket, people. And Sambit, you should have mentioned about the ridiculous tennis courts that pass for cricket grounds in New Zealand.

  • schak82 on February 26, 2009, 10:27 GMT

    Quite right Mr Bal. Unlike some of the comments, you haven't talked about comparing Antigua to Karachi; you are comparing the boredom and loss for the fans in each. As you said a triple century is great but in the context of a match it was just not interesting enough...a massive pity as in itself. But we all sit here and critise the ICC, is there anything that can be done???

  • Cricket_Ka_Khuwar on February 26, 2009, 10:14 GMT

    This article would have been all about the class of Jayawardane and Samarawera had younus not scored the triple hundred!! Sir, pls let us pakistanis feel good about something in cricket. Dont take the credit away! I know it is hardly ever a pleasure for an Indian to see a pakistani scoring a big total and vice versa... but here in Pakistan author of the calbre of Mr. Bal do not give the credit to wicket! We love you younus

  • mrgupta on February 26, 2009, 10:13 GMT

    Like many of the readers have misunderstood, this Articles is not about blaming Pakistan or WI. Its about trying to minimize these kind of dull affairs where days are wasted and no results are possible. A team trying to save or win matches while finally managing a Draw makes for a good Test. The Test played in Karachi though will be remembered for Younis's Triple, will also be remembered for the Run fest. Think of the Poor Bowlers, first 2 innings produced more than 100 runs per wicket!! if the intention is the run fest then better to use Bowling machines rather than burning our some of the finest bowlers. Dont compare the flat pitches of India or Pakistan here, the intention is just to get rid of some meaningless matches proving graveyards for Poor poor bowlers. I am a bowler myself and i know how frustrating it is when the Batsmen are piling runs without getting out, it makes me think if this game is only for Batsmen and bowlers are only 'Jokers' in a Circus.

  • alisiddiqui on February 26, 2009, 9:50 GMT

    "Nothing has brought the game more disrepute in recent times than the events in Antigua and the mockery of a Test in Karachi." <- So basically the triple hundred scored by Younis Khan and double centuries by Jayawardene and Samaraweera equate to square root of f*** all in the eyes of Mr. Sambit Bal. How rich.

  • alisiddiqui on February 26, 2009, 9:45 GMT

    A bit harsh comparing the Karachi wicket to the Antiguan minefield. But that sort of bias towards everything Pakistani is expected from Mr Bal - a paragon in impartial journalism.

  • Satya_Cricket on February 26, 2009, 9:16 GMT

    My congratulations to the Sri Lankan Board for limiting this to only a 2 match Test series. What else can i say? Once a while, if we witness such a thing, i'm sure none of the fans will complain. But even after seeing another triple hundred, feel like do not applauding it. For what?

  • Shashi_23 on February 26, 2009, 9:14 GMT

    Every Test playing country has at sometime produced a sub-par Pitch. Of Late this is happening quite too often. Rather than blaming one another the Boards should think constructively. My suggestions:

    1. A Central Expert comittee should be set up to govern the making & maintainence of the Pitches across the world.

    2. The Factors that affect the pitch namely heat, humidity, rain etc should be taken into consideration there by arriving at a formula for a decent pitch at a venue.

    Well i guess the ICC has some kind of pitches committee. But they only deal with the aftermath(Warnings & reports)

    Its the ICC that should take the initiative & improve the overall quality of the pitches which there by makes the sport an intense worth watching affair.

    But the ICC seems to lack initiative and more importanty do not have the trust of any Test Playing nation(except ECB)

  • Mr_Cricket. on February 26, 2009, 8:30 GMT

    Sorry Sambit but I dont agree with your article as you are comparing two totally different match situations. I dont see how you can draw comparisons between a flat wicket and a dangerous wicket. As many have commentated before, this isnt the first flat pitch in the history of cricket so I dont see what all the fuss is about. The wicket may have been flat but at least there was still a match - which is more than what happened in Antigua.

    A flat pitch may result in a boring match but at least there can be a match.

    Maybe you should be comparing the number of drawn matches on flat tracks with the number of abandoned matches because of dangerous pitches??

    The sub - continent and particularly India has produced many flat wickets which usually lead to high scoring draws. I remember Waqar Younis (while bowling in India) once said that India could never produce great fast bowlers because they always produced flat tracks for their batsmen.

  • RajitD on February 26, 2009, 8:28 GMT

    I think some of the readers are missing Sambit's point that wickets need to give a decent chance of a result over 5 days. The karachi test here is merely a case in point. Somebody mentioned about why was "Antigua" not discussed in detail. The reason is there was no cricket. So what are you planning to discuss?

    Pakistani readers would do well to not have such inferiority complex and always dig out history pertaining to how well or badly Indians have played. A bad and unsporting wicket is just that. Never mind if its in Karachi, Chennai, Bangalore or Timbuktu. And a high scoring bad wicket is as bad as a minefield wicket where 20 wickets fall in a day.

  • omairhr on February 26, 2009, 7:34 GMT

    It is unfair to compare Karachi pitch with (what they called) pitch in Antigua!

    It is unfair and arbitrary to set 2006 as the cut off date and compare 9 tests played in Pakistan v/s 15 in India. Those 9 tests involve teams presumably good at batting (India, South Africa and West Indies).

    If I choose lets say 1980 as the cut off date or any earlier date, the averages in India have been a little higher (around 35 for India hosted matches v/s 33 for Pakistan hosted, Runs per match 1011 for India and 980 for matches played in Pakistan).

  • sridharps on February 26, 2009, 7:24 GMT

    Sambit, your articles are usually spot on. Here also you have been largely right - the only disagreement I have is that you have unfairly targetted Pakistan and WI. May be that was not your intention - but that is the way it comes across in this article. India is equally culpable - forget the numbers- I can recall many occassions myself. And I have seen a couple as a spectator in the stands. What about NZ with the drop in pitches which made Dravid comment - 'I have to learn batting again'?

    I think your intention was to provoke thinking along these lines - but the article comes across as Pak bashing.

  • Sudzz on February 26, 2009, 7:22 GMT

    Sambit's article is very relevant, accurate and direct. But I dont think the ICC either has the guts of the gumption to carry out any of its threats.

    In fact if anything the ICC seems adept at playing passing the parcel and coming up with some inane, cockamamie schemes to rate players across eras etc.

    Come to think of it, the influence that the ICC holds over the game or the innovations that have come from within ICC are too minuscule to even talk about.

    Most of the technical innovation has come from Australia and commercial innovation has come from India and this despite the ICC.

    Even now they will pass the buck back to the home boards that are essentially cash strapped and yet are expected to deliver a great pitch and playing conditions. The ICC neither has the vision nor the power to influence its other constituents to step in and help out or even the wherewithal to go to a PCB or a WICB and say that here is a loan of USDxxx million for developing the sport now lets play ball.

  • Tendulkar_Zohaib on February 26, 2009, 7:16 GMT

    It's all abt ur approach . As approach was positive , so we got 5 wickets in last few hours on that so called "dead" pitch. Sangakkara and other rookies were bowling many overs and how do you can expect these rookies to bowl like Shane Warne . If Pakistan had played a bit fast , there had been a result. Hats off to Younis Khan . He made the match eventful in last hours , when people had assumed that match will be a stalemate .

  • Awam on February 26, 2009, 6:58 GMT

    Pakistan have produced great cricketers and fast bowling has been a historic strength of this team now. Considering this, the domstic pitches must be more ard and bouncy to help in backfoot shot-making, a weak area for Pakistani batsmen. Sambit's article appears to be a political one, tacitly ignoring Antigua while going at length against test match at Karachi. It is suggested that he only writes about teams he prefers to cover and not to pose as a cricket columnist.

  • NeilCameron on February 26, 2009, 6:47 GMT

    As the Pak/SL match meandered on, I thought "what is the point of this?". Any pitch in which one of the greatest bowlers in the history of the game takes 65-14-172-1 is suspect (although kudos to Vaas for his economical figures). The standard of International and First Class pitches should be an area that the ICC controls. Pitches and grounds should conform to a minimum standard to ensure they are neither batsmen's graveyards nor minefields. Cricket is served best by consistent pitches while allowing for natural variations from country to country (spin in India, seam in England, bounce in West Indies etc). In short, all Tests, ODIs, T20Is, First Class, List A and Twenty20 matches should be played on pitches and grounds that meet the same international criteria.

  • TheProdigy05 on February 26, 2009, 6:47 GMT

    The arguments posted by some of members (clearly fervent nationalists of Pakistan) are highly preposterous. I do respect your zeal to defend your nation's cricket, but this cannot be at the expense of truth. Mr.Bal has blatantly stated using figures that India produces more bowler friendly tracks- of course there shall be aberrations but they are exactly that: ABERRATIONS!!! Contrastingly, Pakistani curators have ensured flat tracks are the norm. This is the subject which needs to be tackled- not whether there have been worse tracks in comparison to Karachi in other nations. Karachi simply epitomizes the recent history of Pakistani pitches- it is not the only subject of concern.

  • redneck on February 26, 2009, 6:22 GMT

    i would like someone to ask the head groundsman at karachi what he had in mind when prepairing the pitch for the just concluded test. did he have directions from someone to prepair a lifeless wicket or did something not go right during the prepairation? anyhow prashant1 haydens tripple century was on one of the most result oriantated grounds in the world, i think his high scoring had more to do with the quality of opposition (or lack of it)

  • passionate.indian on February 26, 2009, 6:10 GMT

    real thought provoking article again by Sambhit... couldnt agree more with him that the 2 incidents mentioned clearly maligned test match reputation... its high time cricket administrators too started getting harsh punishments.. but who will bell the cat ?... can we even think of someone trying to punish people like Dalmiya for all the financial irregularities he committed or that black mark on the name of cricket--lalit modi ?? such people need to debarred from holding any position even remotely related to cricket for life...

  • Rodzilla1010 on February 26, 2009, 6:09 GMT

    Mr. Bal, you didnt seem to mind the pitch at Bangalore in 2007, when India were leading 1-0 and they prepared a pitch where India scored 626 runs in the first innings, just to get followed up by reply of 550 runs by Pakistan.

    One double hundred, 3 centuries and 7 half centuries were scored in that match. A total of 1610 runs were scored, less than total (1553) scored at Karachi.

    Forget about flat tracks, i can name many. But i ll expect an article from you ( actually i dont) the next time India prepares a mine-field, like they prepared for Australia in 2006 and then for South Africa last year. (for which the BCCI got warned by the ICC).

  • Pakistan-ZindaBad on February 26, 2009, 6:07 GMT

    How disappointing Mr. Sambit bal, first 2 days of this test match, it seemed all the world were in love with Jayawerde and Smaraweera 's batting, but as soon as the Pakistanies reply came as good as this, people started complaining about the pitch, its true dead tracks are boring at times, but my friend, this hasn't been the first track in the history of test cricket, all big centuries happened to be made on such tracks only. Be little generous to give credit to Pakistanies as they must have been under tremendous pressure looking at the mammoth total in front of them. Pakistanies are simply the best fighters, thake example from the test they played against india where Irfan pathan took 3 wickets in the first over only on a green track in the same ground, what is your take on that win from the Pakistanies.

    Regards Irfan

    Hope to see my comments posted.

  • nick_japan_2007 on February 26, 2009, 5:54 GMT

    Cricket is run by politicians in Pakistan and muppets in the West Indies.

  • Rodzilla1010 on February 26, 2009, 5:44 GMT

    Just one question. Is there any editing dept. at cricinfo? Because really they need one. This is not the first drawn match of the world, nor the first flat track.

    Ironically, India was playing a T-20 game in a ground so small where top edges were landing among the crowds, is that not unfair to the bowler?

  • prashant1 on February 26, 2009, 4:48 GMT

    I don't remember too much angst about the pitches when Lara batted on and on for his 300 plus scores. Then it was "great batting". Practically every triple century or indeed big double hundred requires a relatively dead pitch. That's the way it goes. Sure it is a farce and the bowlers are reduced to mere bowling machines. And sure these kind of dead pitches shouldn't be permitted and bowlers should be given a "level playing field". But like i said when Lara and co. keep scoring ad infinitum then people talking about their "great batting"...when poor Younis does the exact same thing people complaint about the pitches. Dont get me wrong.These dead pitches are an insult to cricket and bowlers.But ,as with umpires, the only thing we fans request is "consistency" from you "journalists".... Put Laras,Jayawardenes,Haydens triples in the same "slot" as Younis's. Dont eulogise those and detract from Younis.

  • anant15 on February 26, 2009, 4:32 GMT

    Pakistani-Engineer - I'm not sure how u see the article as biased...the author has given hard facts "47.20 per wicket in pak and 38.9 in india"...as for ur claim about india doctoring wickets to suit them there is nothing wrong with that...although i do agree many pitches in India are too batsmen friendly thankfully we dont have to endure a karachi battathon type game in India too often

  • biasreporter on February 26, 2009, 4:08 GMT

    Interesting article and completely biased as usual. You subheading says Antigua but no mention of WICB or that debacle anywhere in the article.

    Actually, I was pleasantly surprised to see that in your usual take on things, you did not blame the Pak/SL test on BCCI, India or the Asian Bloc.

    Pakistan is a failed state and has been for some time -- the fact that there was any cricket played there is a miracle -- it will not be long before it becomes a Zimbabwe.

    Now WI is another matter altogether - with the support of the establishment and millions from the US oligarchs, the Antigua debacle is a clear embarrassment -- which has more to do with cricket. I wish you had focussed on that.

  • JBing on February 26, 2009, 3:58 GMT

    Bowler friendly wickets are always the best to watch test matches on, seeing a batsmen get through the challenges of the conditions and post a big score is one of the best highlights you can ask for in world sport.

    Its such a shame for Pakistan, after having tours cancelled only to get a home test on a road for a pitch, they could of really kicked it back into action by having an exciting test series against sri lanka.

  • Pakistani-Engineer on February 26, 2009, 3:49 GMT

    Well, I am really disappointed at this story being a little biased. The fact is that WEST INDIES and PAKISTAN may have had produced some flat beds and/or minefields in recent times but no other nation is clean in this regard. Have anyone forgotten the last days of a test in India a few years ago when M.Clarke of Australia took six wickets for just nothing..!! Then India is regularly piling on 500 or 600 by batting first in home tests...the only thing different is that indian sunbaked pitches are flatbeds in first three days and then turn minefields...If india wins the toss...well and good! they will win ! if they dont win the toss then their own batsmen have skill to at least hold on for a draw...so Indian flatbed are more of technical plan...What happened in Karachi was that the sun was not shining as it does in late march or April...hence the wicket remained flat....otherwise it would have been a result wicket as testified by 5 wickets in 4 hours on last day.... ALEEM

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  • Pakistani-Engineer on February 26, 2009, 3:49 GMT

    Well, I am really disappointed at this story being a little biased. The fact is that WEST INDIES and PAKISTAN may have had produced some flat beds and/or minefields in recent times but no other nation is clean in this regard. Have anyone forgotten the last days of a test in India a few years ago when M.Clarke of Australia took six wickets for just nothing..!! Then India is regularly piling on 500 or 600 by batting first in home tests...the only thing different is that indian sunbaked pitches are flatbeds in first three days and then turn minefields...If india wins the toss...well and good! they will win ! if they dont win the toss then their own batsmen have skill to at least hold on for a draw...so Indian flatbed are more of technical plan...What happened in Karachi was that the sun was not shining as it does in late march or April...hence the wicket remained flat....otherwise it would have been a result wicket as testified by 5 wickets in 4 hours on last day.... ALEEM

  • JBing on February 26, 2009, 3:58 GMT

    Bowler friendly wickets are always the best to watch test matches on, seeing a batsmen get through the challenges of the conditions and post a big score is one of the best highlights you can ask for in world sport.

    Its such a shame for Pakistan, after having tours cancelled only to get a home test on a road for a pitch, they could of really kicked it back into action by having an exciting test series against sri lanka.

  • biasreporter on February 26, 2009, 4:08 GMT

    Interesting article and completely biased as usual. You subheading says Antigua but no mention of WICB or that debacle anywhere in the article.

    Actually, I was pleasantly surprised to see that in your usual take on things, you did not blame the Pak/SL test on BCCI, India or the Asian Bloc.

    Pakistan is a failed state and has been for some time -- the fact that there was any cricket played there is a miracle -- it will not be long before it becomes a Zimbabwe.

    Now WI is another matter altogether - with the support of the establishment and millions from the US oligarchs, the Antigua debacle is a clear embarrassment -- which has more to do with cricket. I wish you had focussed on that.

  • anant15 on February 26, 2009, 4:32 GMT

    Pakistani-Engineer - I'm not sure how u see the article as biased...the author has given hard facts "47.20 per wicket in pak and 38.9 in india"...as for ur claim about india doctoring wickets to suit them there is nothing wrong with that...although i do agree many pitches in India are too batsmen friendly thankfully we dont have to endure a karachi battathon type game in India too often

  • prashant1 on February 26, 2009, 4:48 GMT

    I don't remember too much angst about the pitches when Lara batted on and on for his 300 plus scores. Then it was "great batting". Practically every triple century or indeed big double hundred requires a relatively dead pitch. That's the way it goes. Sure it is a farce and the bowlers are reduced to mere bowling machines. And sure these kind of dead pitches shouldn't be permitted and bowlers should be given a "level playing field". But like i said when Lara and co. keep scoring ad infinitum then people talking about their "great batting"...when poor Younis does the exact same thing people complaint about the pitches. Dont get me wrong.These dead pitches are an insult to cricket and bowlers.But ,as with umpires, the only thing we fans request is "consistency" from you "journalists".... Put Laras,Jayawardenes,Haydens triples in the same "slot" as Younis's. Dont eulogise those and detract from Younis.

  • Rodzilla1010 on February 26, 2009, 5:44 GMT

    Just one question. Is there any editing dept. at cricinfo? Because really they need one. This is not the first drawn match of the world, nor the first flat track.

    Ironically, India was playing a T-20 game in a ground so small where top edges were landing among the crowds, is that not unfair to the bowler?

  • nick_japan_2007 on February 26, 2009, 5:54 GMT

    Cricket is run by politicians in Pakistan and muppets in the West Indies.

  • Pakistan-ZindaBad on February 26, 2009, 6:07 GMT

    How disappointing Mr. Sambit bal, first 2 days of this test match, it seemed all the world were in love with Jayawerde and Smaraweera 's batting, but as soon as the Pakistanies reply came as good as this, people started complaining about the pitch, its true dead tracks are boring at times, but my friend, this hasn't been the first track in the history of test cricket, all big centuries happened to be made on such tracks only. Be little generous to give credit to Pakistanies as they must have been under tremendous pressure looking at the mammoth total in front of them. Pakistanies are simply the best fighters, thake example from the test they played against india where Irfan pathan took 3 wickets in the first over only on a green track in the same ground, what is your take on that win from the Pakistanies.

    Regards Irfan

    Hope to see my comments posted.

  • Rodzilla1010 on February 26, 2009, 6:09 GMT

    Mr. Bal, you didnt seem to mind the pitch at Bangalore in 2007, when India were leading 1-0 and they prepared a pitch where India scored 626 runs in the first innings, just to get followed up by reply of 550 runs by Pakistan.

    One double hundred, 3 centuries and 7 half centuries were scored in that match. A total of 1610 runs were scored, less than total (1553) scored at Karachi.

    Forget about flat tracks, i can name many. But i ll expect an article from you ( actually i dont) the next time India prepares a mine-field, like they prepared for Australia in 2006 and then for South Africa last year. (for which the BCCI got warned by the ICC).

  • passionate.indian on February 26, 2009, 6:10 GMT

    real thought provoking article again by Sambhit... couldnt agree more with him that the 2 incidents mentioned clearly maligned test match reputation... its high time cricket administrators too started getting harsh punishments.. but who will bell the cat ?... can we even think of someone trying to punish people like Dalmiya for all the financial irregularities he committed or that black mark on the name of cricket--lalit modi ?? such people need to debarred from holding any position even remotely related to cricket for life...