September 7, 2011

Better Galle than blandness

Why is a pitch that does a little too much deemed so much worse than one that's dead from day one?
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Kanpur, April 2008, and Mickey Arthur is in no mood for pussyfooting. "Even we would have left a lot of grass on South African wickets in this situation. We would have played to our strength. We had expected India to prepare a wicket like this. In a funny sort of way a wicket like this will provide a very exciting result." So, in a funny, refreshingly frank sort of way, says South Africa's head coach after seeing the hosts grind out a narrow lead on the second day of the decisive third Test. Not that that stops him from telling it like it is. Denouncing the bone-dry Green Park pitch as "far from ideal", he castigates it as "a five-day wicket on day two".

Twenty-four hours and one horrid batting collapse later, despite a resounding defeat, the South African camp offers not a single bleat of protest. Not that there's any need: the chorus of disapproval is already uproarious enough to ensure official condemnation. "My considered view," states Roshan Mahanama in his match referee's report, "is that the pitch was poor as it was too dry and had considerable turn and variable bounce from the first day… The pitch was not up to Test match standards."

While it is impossible to be certain without having read the full text of Chris Broad's musings on the state of the pitch at Galle, it is almost as hard to believe his conclusions were not along much the same lines as Mahanama's. So far, so consistent, except that whereas the BCCI received an official warning and instructions to take "corrective measures" (and the next Test at Green Park, between India and Sri Lanka a year later, certainly lasted a good deal longer), the Sri Lankan board could also be slapped with a first-offence fine of up to US$15,000. That said, since no financial penalty was imposed in the case of Kanpur, it seems doubtful the fine will be imposed, given the accusations of double-standards that would surely, and justly, ensue. Not that such inconsistency would astonish those conversant with cricketing realpolitik.

Michael Clarke was even more damning than Arthur, insisting in Galle that "day one felt like day five". Ricky Ponting, meanwhile, likened it to conditions in Mumbai in 2004. On that occasion he was content to describe himself as "disappointed", but there was no mistaking the barely suppressed fury after his side had been spun-dried in barely two days' playing time: "It's fair to say that the wicket was nowhere near even being close to Test-match standard: that's pretty obvious given what we've seen… 40 wickets falling in just over two days of a Test is pretty much unheard of. It's disappointing that the series has ended this way. It puts a bit of a sour taste in the mouth." Imagine how sour it would have been if Australia hadn't already won the rubber.

But were that Mumbai mamba and Kanpur cobra really more treacherous to the spirit and purpose of sport than some of the limp fare liberally served up elsewhere? Take the previous Test at Green Park itself, in November 2004, when South Africa and India took turns hoovering up runs on a pitch where, according to Dileep Premachandran, "eternity might have been too short to produce a result". What of that immaculately imbalanced wrestling bout at Colombo's SSC last year, when Sri Lanka made 642 for not very many and India batted into the final afternoon to cobble together 707? If there has ever been a better advert for the cons of five-day cricket, it could only have been those interminable Antiguan affairs at St John's, where even Brian Lara's fondness for record-obliterating failed to compensate for a succession of soul-destroying, stupefying stalemates.

Now consider the orders Broad was obliged to follow in Galle, namely Appendix C of the latest ICC Operating Manual ("Guidance for Rating Pitches"): "All pitches will be judged solely on how they play. The objective shall be to provide a balanced contest between bat and ball over the course of the match, allowing all the individual skills of the game to be demonstrated by the players at various stages of the match." So far, so sensible.

Trouble is, the dubious priorities are somewhat betrayed by the four official criteria for a "poor" pitch: three are sympathetic to batsmen and only one, typically, gives a tinker's cuss for bowlers - and hence, many would argue, spectators. Nor should we be the slightest bit surprised, given the toxic spread of what are commonly called "chief executive's pitches" but really ought to be classified as "broadcasters' pitches", that no Test track has yet been adjudged "poor" for displaying "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". Note the subtle but telling shift from "balanced" to "fair". It almost goes without saying that six of the seven match referees (Javagal Srinath is the token concession to the pie-chucking fraternity) are former batsmen.

The dubious priorities are somewhat betrayed by the four official criteria for a "poor" pitch: three are sympathetic to batsmen and only one, typically, gives a tinker's cuss for bowlers

All the same, I can't recall too much huffing or harrumphing from Tony Greig or Sanath Jayasuriya during their commentary duties in Galle. True, their employers wouldn't have been toasting their health had they so indulged, but Greig, for all his geniality towards Sri Lankans, has never quite mastered the art of biting his tongue. Besides, what, from a viewer's perspective, was there to whinge about? It was a compelling contest, and mostly gripping, as so often happens in games where slip catches flow more readily than sixes.

On the opening day Michael Hussey demonstrated that fluency and prosperity were eminently possible, as Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews and Clarke himself did subsequently, not to mention Australia's 9, 10 and Jack, the last two both debutants. Tharanga Paranavitana made 29 in three hours, a snail blissfully content in his shell. And there was as much in the pitch for Ryan Harris and Shane Watson as there was for Rangana Herath and Nathan Lyon. All in all, for all the undoubted imperfections, there was something for swingers, seamers and spinners, as well as for the steady and the strident. I don't know about you, but in my book that's the very definition of balance. Not insignificantly, and unlike those run splurges at St John's and the SSC, proceedings in Galle had the gall to finish a day early.

Spare a thought for the poor groundsman. "My stomach was in a bloody knot," confessed one eminent and passionate square-tender, recalling the early overs on one of his creations. "I thought 'If this bugger goes up and down, I'm dead.'" The dread came from the knowledge that he had started preparing it 48 hours too early. Come the rest day (remember them?), he decided there was no option but to cheat. "We're supposed to leave Test pitches open, but the Sunday was a lovely sunny day and I kept the covers on to stop the drying. I didn't want it to crack open any more. I needed to try and contain the steep bounce that was developing. It was against the rules. But I knew the pitch was unfit for Test match cricket and we still had two days to go. I was fearing something terrible taking place. I had visions of all sorts happening - I didn't want anybody to get hit."

The groundsman in question, a chap who would rather slit his throat than produce a "home" pitch to order, was Keith Boyce; the occasion, the 1981 Headingley Test. In other words, the greatest comeback in five-day annals was played out not on a surface that was merely "poor" but, in the very unvarnished words of the man responsible, "unfit" (granted, nobody was hurt badly on those final two days, but Trevor Chappell, Kim Hughes and Graham Yallop all might have done had they not got some wood on those brutish Bob Willis lifters that dismissed them).

So yes, it bears remembering that great cricket can be played on purportedly poor, even unfit, pitches, but the folk who run this precious game of ours would do even better to remind themselves that bad cricket can be played on allegedly good ones. Better Galle than blandness.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mark00 on September 9, 2011, 11:14 GMT

    A rare moment of lucidity from Mr Steen. Well said.

  • trepuR on September 8, 2011, 13:28 GMT

    Despite being an Aussie myself, I agree with rahulcricket007 wholeheartedly, an interesting wicket does not have to be a green top, I love watching a dry, crumbly wicket that asks the batsmen to actualy work for their runs. There is a huge number of boring flat wickets in test matches, keep them for the shorter format. Idealy, there should be a variety of wickets: flat, 'normal', crumbly/dry, green. The point has been brought up so many times before that in an effort to keep games going for five days, groundskeepers are instructed by administrators to ere on the side of the batsmen and while this will create short term profits, in the long run it will hurt the game by driving people away with boring batsmen dominated matches. The problem with having a variety of pitches means that some grounds will produce more revenue and as such, pitches need to be regulated moreso to allow for that combination of fair contests and games dominated by bat or ball.

  • on September 8, 2011, 13:22 GMT

    The future of Test Cricket depends on the kind of Pitches officials encourage. If they encourage DEAD pitches, Test Cricket will DIE, if they produce pitches with LIFE, then Test cricket will come to life. No one has time to waste 5 days for a game without a result.

    Pitches should be designed to produce results in 3 to 4 days.

  • Elliott_Tree on September 8, 2011, 12:08 GMT

    @rahulcricket007, @Wasim Raja: I agree. While uneven, unpredictable bounce is not desirable, I think that a pitch that takes loads of turn is comparable to a fast, bouncy pitch, or one that seams nicely. Though I fear it is the same in English domestic cricket - pitches seem more likely to get marked down for 'taking excessive turn' than anything else :o( (though I'm happy to be corrected on this - it is an anecdotal feeling, I haven't done the proper research)

  • on September 8, 2011, 11:54 GMT

    Well said.. rahulcricket007

    When australia, england, south africa can prepare lush green pitches favouring their pacers, why cant we prepare pitches which aids spin. In what sense does a green pitch favouring pacers offers more of a contest between bat and ball than a spinner friendly pitch.

  • Elliott_Tree on September 8, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    AFAICS the only undesirable aspect of these dry pitches which get marked down is the uneven bounce, because it is more about luck than skill in using the surface. So fair enough, the Galle pitch wasn't a great Test pitch, but it really irks me that SLC might get censured for it, while no-one ever gets marked down for a flat, dead pitch. GRRRR! (at least there seems to a general and reasonable consensus on Cricinfo, though - so in one aspect of cricket the fans are all in agreement)

  • rahulcricket007 on September 8, 2011, 7:12 GMT

    I HAVE JUST ONE QUESTION IN MY MIND THAT WHENEVER A TEST MATCH ON A SUBCONTINENTAL PITCH ENDED WITHIN 3 OR 4 DAYS (LIKE KANPUR 2008, GALLE 2011 I M NOT COUNTING MUMBAI2004 BECAUSE THAT PITCH WAS REALLY BAD) EVRYBODY STARTS CRITISIZING PITCH . REFREES REPORT IT A BAD PITCH.WHAT ABOUT PITCHES LIKE WACA (PERTH) &KINGSMEAD (DURBAN) IN WHICH TOO MOSTLY TEST MATCHES END WITHIN 4 OR EVEN 3 DAYS.NOBODY COMPLAINT ON THOSE PITCHES .WHY? YEAH U ALL WILL SAY THAT THOSE PITCHES PRODUCE RESULT IN EVERY MATCH AND MAKES TEST CRICKET INTERESTING , THEN THE SAME GOES TO THE SUBCONTINENT TURNING PITCHES .

  • johnathonjosephs on September 8, 2011, 6:45 GMT

    Galle and Mumbai pitches should be used more often. Granted the Mumbai pitch was a little TOO extreme, but in all honesty the only reason Ponting is complaining is because he is a batsman. If warne was the captain/playing that time he would have been applauding the pitch

  • landl47 on September 8, 2011, 4:25 GMT

    A good test wicket, in my view, has to have two characteristics: first, it should favor both bowlers and batsmen at different times in the contest, so that overall the contest is even; and second, it should be designed to enable a contest between two evenly matched sides to last into the fifth day. The ideal pitch would contain enough juice to be of assistance to bowlers on day one; would be at its best for batting on days 2 and 3; would begin to allow spin and reverse swing on day 4 and be helpful to bowlers on day 5. OK, so not every pitch will meet those criteria, but that should be the aim. The pitch in Galle was deliberately created to be in the same condition on day 1 as the ideal pitch would be on day 4- favorable to spin and reverse swing- and to further deteriorate on day 2. The side winning the toss had a huge advantage, which enabled Australia to win the match. Though it's good to see results, that pitch did not lead to a fair contest, so it was rightly judged poor.

  • Humdingers on September 8, 2011, 2:35 GMT

    Chris Broad is a waste of space. He has contributed absolutely nothing to the game from his position.

  • Mark00 on September 9, 2011, 11:14 GMT

    A rare moment of lucidity from Mr Steen. Well said.

  • trepuR on September 8, 2011, 13:28 GMT

    Despite being an Aussie myself, I agree with rahulcricket007 wholeheartedly, an interesting wicket does not have to be a green top, I love watching a dry, crumbly wicket that asks the batsmen to actualy work for their runs. There is a huge number of boring flat wickets in test matches, keep them for the shorter format. Idealy, there should be a variety of wickets: flat, 'normal', crumbly/dry, green. The point has been brought up so many times before that in an effort to keep games going for five days, groundskeepers are instructed by administrators to ere on the side of the batsmen and while this will create short term profits, in the long run it will hurt the game by driving people away with boring batsmen dominated matches. The problem with having a variety of pitches means that some grounds will produce more revenue and as such, pitches need to be regulated moreso to allow for that combination of fair contests and games dominated by bat or ball.

  • on September 8, 2011, 13:22 GMT

    The future of Test Cricket depends on the kind of Pitches officials encourage. If they encourage DEAD pitches, Test Cricket will DIE, if they produce pitches with LIFE, then Test cricket will come to life. No one has time to waste 5 days for a game without a result.

    Pitches should be designed to produce results in 3 to 4 days.

  • Elliott_Tree on September 8, 2011, 12:08 GMT

    @rahulcricket007, @Wasim Raja: I agree. While uneven, unpredictable bounce is not desirable, I think that a pitch that takes loads of turn is comparable to a fast, bouncy pitch, or one that seams nicely. Though I fear it is the same in English domestic cricket - pitches seem more likely to get marked down for 'taking excessive turn' than anything else :o( (though I'm happy to be corrected on this - it is an anecdotal feeling, I haven't done the proper research)

  • on September 8, 2011, 11:54 GMT

    Well said.. rahulcricket007

    When australia, england, south africa can prepare lush green pitches favouring their pacers, why cant we prepare pitches which aids spin. In what sense does a green pitch favouring pacers offers more of a contest between bat and ball than a spinner friendly pitch.

  • Elliott_Tree on September 8, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    AFAICS the only undesirable aspect of these dry pitches which get marked down is the uneven bounce, because it is more about luck than skill in using the surface. So fair enough, the Galle pitch wasn't a great Test pitch, but it really irks me that SLC might get censured for it, while no-one ever gets marked down for a flat, dead pitch. GRRRR! (at least there seems to a general and reasonable consensus on Cricinfo, though - so in one aspect of cricket the fans are all in agreement)

  • rahulcricket007 on September 8, 2011, 7:12 GMT

    I HAVE JUST ONE QUESTION IN MY MIND THAT WHENEVER A TEST MATCH ON A SUBCONTINENTAL PITCH ENDED WITHIN 3 OR 4 DAYS (LIKE KANPUR 2008, GALLE 2011 I M NOT COUNTING MUMBAI2004 BECAUSE THAT PITCH WAS REALLY BAD) EVRYBODY STARTS CRITISIZING PITCH . REFREES REPORT IT A BAD PITCH.WHAT ABOUT PITCHES LIKE WACA (PERTH) &KINGSMEAD (DURBAN) IN WHICH TOO MOSTLY TEST MATCHES END WITHIN 4 OR EVEN 3 DAYS.NOBODY COMPLAINT ON THOSE PITCHES .WHY? YEAH U ALL WILL SAY THAT THOSE PITCHES PRODUCE RESULT IN EVERY MATCH AND MAKES TEST CRICKET INTERESTING , THEN THE SAME GOES TO THE SUBCONTINENT TURNING PITCHES .

  • johnathonjosephs on September 8, 2011, 6:45 GMT

    Galle and Mumbai pitches should be used more often. Granted the Mumbai pitch was a little TOO extreme, but in all honesty the only reason Ponting is complaining is because he is a batsman. If warne was the captain/playing that time he would have been applauding the pitch

  • landl47 on September 8, 2011, 4:25 GMT

    A good test wicket, in my view, has to have two characteristics: first, it should favor both bowlers and batsmen at different times in the contest, so that overall the contest is even; and second, it should be designed to enable a contest between two evenly matched sides to last into the fifth day. The ideal pitch would contain enough juice to be of assistance to bowlers on day one; would be at its best for batting on days 2 and 3; would begin to allow spin and reverse swing on day 4 and be helpful to bowlers on day 5. OK, so not every pitch will meet those criteria, but that should be the aim. The pitch in Galle was deliberately created to be in the same condition on day 1 as the ideal pitch would be on day 4- favorable to spin and reverse swing- and to further deteriorate on day 2. The side winning the toss had a huge advantage, which enabled Australia to win the match. Though it's good to see results, that pitch did not lead to a fair contest, so it was rightly judged poor.

  • Humdingers on September 8, 2011, 2:35 GMT

    Chris Broad is a waste of space. He has contributed absolutely nothing to the game from his position.

  • on September 8, 2011, 2:32 GMT

    Great article..disappointed to see SL loose but it was a good contest between bat and ball.. hope the guys preparing the pitches will not prepare flat tracks for the next matches..

  • Dashgar on September 8, 2011, 1:55 GMT

    Interesting piece but we must remember that cricket is supposed to be played in certain conditions. It is imperfections in the pitch that make them bowling friendly. Therefore I would say that curators should make sure not to make their pitch perfect or it will be too difficult for the bowlers, but the curator should still be on the batsman's side not the bowler. Just because something makes a game more exciting doesn't mean it is a good thing. Think of all the games that became exciting because of poor umpiring decisions. Does this justify bad umpiring as long as the game is more exciting?

  • InswingingToeCrusher on September 7, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    Great to see most cricinfo fans agree that that pitch was worth the test match. Shows how people from all parts of the world want a contest. Don't agree with ICC though, some people (Broad) want to bully some countries to prepare better suited pitches for foreigners. They want to create precedence on which other pitches in the subcontinent to be judged. It would be great to see Srilanka, India and Pak oppose this maligned nonsense and preserve their strengths. And even then if Aus or england win, hats off to their talent.

  • CricketFan2011WC on September 7, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    Fully agree, great insight to all who were complaining...In order to keep Test matches interesting, we need more grounds that provide results.

  • Danube on September 7, 2011, 23:08 GMT

    I agree wholeheartedly Rob. As long as every pitch is not a minefield (and fat chance of that happening) it is good to see a variety of wickets, as so few favour the bowlers in any event. Some of the greatest games ever played were the early Test's played on uncovered wickets. Endless roads resulting in high score bore draws, by contrast, are the worst type of test matches. The Galle Test was a good un.

  • on September 7, 2011, 20:02 GMT

    I honestly don't know what is the fuss about this pitch to be rated as poor. So what if it started to turn from day one. It is better to watch a match where skill of the batter is matched against the bowler and this match provided that contest. It is pitches like these that separate the men from the boys. I am tired of watching a gloat of runs being scored on flat surface with nothing for the bowlers and people are happy with a draw as the match went into the 5th day. Chris Broad must be nostalgic about his playing days in the 80s when most of the matches ended with a draw on flat surface. This was an even contest between two teams and it is exciting to have these kind of test matches.

  • on September 7, 2011, 19:16 GMT

    Agreed in whole. The pitch is for BOTH SIDES to play on. So things even out eventually. Really good cricket happens from these difficult situations. I'd rather see a batsman struggle to stay in the middle than one scoring hundreds on an easy pitch.

  • on September 7, 2011, 18:49 GMT

    These kind of pitches separates the great players from the good players, those with will of steel from those who only have talent but no grit.

  • on September 7, 2011, 17:33 GMT

    @Hattima: The SL/Australia match lasted four days. But on topic, I couldn't agree with this article more. Even as a Sri Lankan, I'd rather take a low-scoring loss than a high-scoring, and utterly boring, draw.

  • Robster1 on September 7, 2011, 16:23 GMT

    Dull, slow pitches producing high scoring bore draw batathons are significantly responsible for killing test cricket. The most entertaining tests are often those where ball slightly dominates the bat.

  • Trapper439 on September 7, 2011, 16:03 GMT

    @Fahad Javed: So you're whining about the fact that Australia is only complaining because they lost the Test? Look at the scoreboard, son.

  • NairUSA on September 7, 2011, 15:31 GMT

    If you cant play well on spin pitches, your team have a major problem. Similarly, if your batsmen fail on green pitches, get better batsmen in your team. The pitch should be declared bad only if there is a possibility of the batsmen getting injured.

  • vallavarayar on September 7, 2011, 14:47 GMT

    Nice piece. And it highlights the very important issue of a balanced test pitch. I didn't see the Galle match, so I can't be sure about the uneven bounce, but I would take this pitch any day to a SSC concrete runway, where I had the dubious pleasure of watching some matches.

  • on September 7, 2011, 14:01 GMT

    If the Galle Pitch is poor for Chris Broad...what will he call Mahela's innings?

  • Ben1989 on September 7, 2011, 13:17 GMT

    @coolerking, not nessecailly mate... as explained below by someone else, I think the game would attract more attention with more livelier pitches, therefore ticket sales MAY end up being on par whether it be 4 or 5 days, I mean if you went to the 4th day of a match & saw a huge amount of runs scored & knew the same thing would happen the next day & therefore test be drawn, would you go? I would certainly rather pay for 4days of hard test cricket than 5 days of a runfest which to be honest is completely boring. I think the positive here is that from what I read 90% of the comments agree with Rob, therefore you would hope ICC at least have some sort of moderator checking things like this to see the spectators view, as we all know we're one of the most important aspects of the game & our view is most important, as we fund majority of profit with ticket sales.... I really hope this second test doesn't turn out to be a flat pitch....

  • Lord.emsworth on September 7, 2011, 12:02 GMT

    The pitch played the same for all the days so no team could claim any injustice despite Clarkes digs about day one looking like day five etc, etc.. Mahanama and Broad are not the same persons... strange bedfellows really.... Broad is unpopular with most teams from the subcontinent and even WI, Mahanama is not. As for Tony Greig he likes Sri Lanka...yes...But he is no sycophant and will call a spade a spade even if it goes against SL. The guy has vast cricketing acumen and deserves respect.

  • LancashireHero on September 7, 2011, 12:02 GMT

    I completely agree with the article and most of the people who've posted below. The pitch made for a good test match that rewarded skill, and the better team won. From a neutral perspective this was a great match to follow.

  • py0alb on September 7, 2011, 11:57 GMT

    One of the great joys of cricket is the different challenges thrown up by the different styles of pitches around the world: the green-tops of England and NZ, the quick bouncy pitches of SA and Aus, and the slow turners of the subcontinent. A truly great team must have the versatility to prosper on every surface. Remove this natural variation and you remove a big part of what makes Test Cricket so fascinating.

    Picking on spin bowler friendly pitches in particular is ridiculous. Everyone bemoans the dominance of batting and the lack of spin bowling, yet any pitch that gives them a fair chance is castigated. Making every nation produce uniform flat roads that last 5 days may make money in the short run, but it makes the game less captivating and will only lose revenue over the long term. Talk about short sighted!

  • on September 7, 2011, 11:34 GMT

    "i think c broad has done this coz next test at galle is between england and sri lanka and he knows his batsmen are not as good as aussies and will lose "

    Don't know if you spotted this, Aayush, but not long ago English (and South African, we get it) batsmen wiped the floor with Aussie batsmen. In their own backyard. Still, I suppose you could complain about "prepared" pitches in England when the wing and seam and have a bit of grass on them, not like that's what English pitches have always been like, bit like coming across dry, turning pitches in the subcontinent...

  • taniap on September 7, 2011, 11:06 GMT

    Simple. The requirement should be only to provide consistant conditions as much as possible to both sides so that the players' skill will decide on the result. Whether it is grassy or a dusty pitch, if it holds and creates an exciting game, what is the problem then?

    I agree completely with this article. Sides that cannot produce good fast bowlers complain about grassy pitches and the sides who cannot produce good spinners complain about dusty pitches. Time to stop complain and get balanced skills into your teams!

  • hattima on September 7, 2011, 10:41 GMT

    The match lasted five days. The pitch did not pose any physical danger to anyone. There was an even contest between bat and ball. Why is it bad, then?

  • mohsin9975 on September 7, 2011, 10:37 GMT

    3 Scores out of 4 inngs were over 200. 2 out of which were over 250. What else do u want. It was a decent pitch. Chris seems furious becoz an aussie spinner took a 5-er on debut

  • Harvey on September 7, 2011, 10:31 GMT

    It's good to see a Cricinfo writer taking up the cause. Let's have variety in pitches. Who cares whether batsmen like a particular pitch or not? Who cares whether the game lasts less than 5 days, as long as the pitch isn't dangerous, and as long as it's fair to both sides, not just the one who wins the toss? Batsmen have been spoilt rotten in recent years, and it's frustrating as a spectator to see exciting pitches like this one attracting sanctions while the kind of pancake pitches that are killing interest in the game seem to be actively encouraged. Spicy pitches (whether offering turn or seam movement) make for lively cricket, and that's exactly what spectators want, and what the game needs!

  • on September 7, 2011, 9:57 GMT

    why not give a warning to england for all the pitches they have prepared for us(india) pakistan and sri lanka in last two years and is such a pitch is producing results better than pich after 5 days is far from result i think c broad has done this coz next test at galle is between england and sri lanka and he knows his batsmen are not as good as aussies and will lose comprehensively if such a pitch is produced

  • coolerking on September 7, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    There's a very simple answer to this question: flat pitches produce matches which go the full five days thereby giving certain people the opportunity to make more money.

  • on September 7, 2011, 9:32 GMT

    Totally agreed. I don't know why only playing on bouncy pitches is considered skills and not on dry turning ones. Though I do believe that there will be chorus of bias against this article in that when an Aussie team wins the author is supporting such pitches but when white teams lose the pitch is blamed.

    Fahad

  • akshaysabnis on September 7, 2011, 9:17 GMT

    Just one question. A green Pitch suitable to fast bowling is good pitch, but a brown pitch with assistance to Spin is a bad pitch.... What is the logic? neva got that one

  • Herbet on September 7, 2011, 9:16 GMT

    Its a joke punishing Sri Lanka for the Galle pitch, it produced an entertaining game and one where the batsmen really had to graft for a change. there should be more pitches like that. Its not as if the ICC are bothered about missing days and lost revenue, from what I could see there were about 4 monks and a few Aussie tourists watching! Unless a pitch reduces batting to a lottery through uneven bounce or is dangerous like that one at Sabina Park in the 90's then I don't see an issue.

  • on September 7, 2011, 8:41 GMT

    if batsmen can't play on such pitches then its down to their inability and incapability and not the nature of the pitch. as a batsmen [and that too of world repute] you should be able to bat on all types of pitches. whats the use of batting on pitches that are tailor-made for batting. anyone can bat on such dead pitches. its totally unfair to make everything to appease the batsmen and not for the bowlers and when bowlers fail to win matches for their teams they are deemed useless and toothless.

  • RyanSmith on September 7, 2011, 8:01 GMT

    I think some pitches produced benefit the team winning the toss too much. But I would rather watch a game played on a pitch like the one in Galle than some of the roads that are dished up. But a fair bit of the boringness of games played on 'roads' has to do with gutless captains. Groundsman are bashed that there was never going to be a result but I think the captains also have a lot to answer for. (E.g.Team A bats 1st and makes 4/600dec Team B then posts 750. Team A bats again and makes 3/150 and the game is called off as a draw. The captains come out and bash the groundsman saying there was never going to be a result.) The truth is the captains were never trying to get a result. Imagine Team A makes 4/470 declared, team B could then post say 4/280dec. Team A could set team B a challenging but getable target of say 430 off say 110 overs (or whatever) Game on. It never happens though because all the captains care about is seeing batsman X scoring 250* or 300*, not a result!

  • Truemans_Ghost on September 7, 2011, 7:18 GMT

    I must be missing something. The Galle test was interesting, exiting, gave both teams a chance and the team who playted best won. What on earth is the problem?

  • Valerio_DiBattista on September 7, 2011, 6:37 GMT

    I think if a survey was done of all Test cricket fans, greater than 80% would hope and even pray for a more even contest between bat and ball. ie. giving the bowlers a chance on a consistent basis. By continuing to ignore these desires of the fans, the adminstrators are strangling the game of Test cricket to death, disenfranchising the fans of Test cricket from the game. This is the reality of the situation.

    Now the real question is, and the question that we should be trying to answer is, "Why does this continue to happen?". I believe it is because of the TV rights.ie. The short-term interest of maximising TV coverage for a specific series. Does anyone else have a different opinion? Is there a secret cult out there somewhere that hates bowlers and fans of the game and wants to make Tests as dull as possible? Is the ICC trying to destroy Test cricket to make way for "hit and giggle" cricket? As the wise man says... follow the money.

  • on September 7, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    right again rob...didn't jayawardene score a ton because he applied himself?hint!! didn't sri lanka because of good off spin and shocking shot selection.leaving a gap between bat and pad is not advisable to bowlers who can bowl off-cutters.someone please tell the ICC to grow up.

  • Reggaecricket on September 7, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    The pitch was not a dangerous pitch, there were 2 scores of 90+ and a hundred scored on that pitch. As you have very rightly said there was plenty for all the bowlers, too. Clarke reckons the OZs would have won even batting second. If a few Sri Lankan batsmen had stuck it out like Mahela and Angelo did, we would have had an even better/closer finish. A visiting side won the game which was an even contest between bat and ball. Broad is either loyal to commercial TV interests or his prejudices are being exposed yet again!

  • stormy16 on September 7, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    I was surprised at this issue with the pitch given the only hundred was made in the 4th innings and Mahela didnt see too many horrors and Harris got a 5fer in the 4th innings and spinner got one in the 4th innings. The only real problem was SL batted themselves out of the game on day 2. Sure it wasnt a 400 run wicket but why should it be - there was a contest and everyone had an opportunity. If SL managed to get 200+ on the first innings it would have been a great game and still was a decent game. I agree with the notion that the bigger issue would be the SSC wicket where only two innings are completed or other such wickets where there is no contest. Also what about green tops where the home team are able to bat on but the visiting team is shot out - is that a contest on an unfair contest? Am I imagining of does Chris Broad seem to make strange decisions and isnt it time Broad be taken out give his son is playing against players and countries he is making calls on or is that just ok??

  • bobagorof on September 7, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    I have always maintained that a bowler-friendly pitch every so often keeps the interest in Test cricket. Sure, we all love to see our team batting well - but the mark of great batsmen is not that they score heavily in favourable conditions, but that they hang around and find a way to score when the going is tough. 'Test cricket is a test of one mentally and technically' is a line often trotted out by batsmen, so they should have no complaints when their technique is given a chance to shine. As for the match finishing early - surely a good, absorbing contest (as Galle was) over 4 days will draw the crowds in more than a 5 day bat-fest. So the ticket sales may end up being comparable despite a day's play. Unless, that is, the public has been brought up to expect run rates of 8-10 an over. Whoops.

  • ygkd on September 7, 2011, 5:30 GMT

    I don't see why any fellow Australians should complain about Galle. Oz won didn't it? And it is Sri Lanka. Do we expect them to produce a WACA or a Gabba?

  • smudgeon on September 7, 2011, 5:29 GMT

    "Better Galle than blandness". Sums up my thoughts entirely. But then to blame a pitch 100% for some of the horrid scorecards mentioned above (the SL v India match for a start) isn't necessarily fair, as there is such a thing as "playing for a win". If both teams played like that every match (yeah, I know, fat chance), I'm sure that would go some way to negating the roads which offer the opportunity to rack up massive totals without any intent to force a result.

  • Meety on September 7, 2011, 4:49 GMT

    I dunno, some valid points, but I think a pitch has got to deteriorate from a good level to poor from start to finish, not be basically dead from the 1st ball. The trouble is not that it spun or had unreliable bounce, but that it was devoid of moisture in a wet climate. It really reeked of trying to get an unreasonable home advantage. That being said - I wish it was Mahanama reporting on the pitch not Broad as he has a fair bit of baggage v the sub-continent.

  • HatsforBats on September 7, 2011, 4:36 GMT

    I didn't think the Galle pitch was unfit for play. Tough to score on sure, but not dangerous or disadvantageous to either side. I would much prefer that Galle pitch to the mind-numbingly sterile pitch that was offered up at the Gabba last summer. It's time to address the imbalance between bat & ball and tougher pitches are the best way forward, be they green & grassy, or dry & dusty.

  • CricFan78 on September 7, 2011, 3:19 GMT

    Everyone knows how fair and balanced Chris Broad is towards sub-continent.

  • D.V.C. on September 7, 2011, 3:12 GMT

    Yay! I agree with Rob. Would like to add one more thing: what's wrong with the pitch playing better at the end of the Test than the start? Surely this is why we have a toss. Captains can asses conditions, and make a decision based on what they see. It is boring just having everyone bat first all the time.

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  • D.V.C. on September 7, 2011, 3:12 GMT

    Yay! I agree with Rob. Would like to add one more thing: what's wrong with the pitch playing better at the end of the Test than the start? Surely this is why we have a toss. Captains can asses conditions, and make a decision based on what they see. It is boring just having everyone bat first all the time.

  • CricFan78 on September 7, 2011, 3:19 GMT

    Everyone knows how fair and balanced Chris Broad is towards sub-continent.

  • HatsforBats on September 7, 2011, 4:36 GMT

    I didn't think the Galle pitch was unfit for play. Tough to score on sure, but not dangerous or disadvantageous to either side. I would much prefer that Galle pitch to the mind-numbingly sterile pitch that was offered up at the Gabba last summer. It's time to address the imbalance between bat & ball and tougher pitches are the best way forward, be they green & grassy, or dry & dusty.

  • Meety on September 7, 2011, 4:49 GMT

    I dunno, some valid points, but I think a pitch has got to deteriorate from a good level to poor from start to finish, not be basically dead from the 1st ball. The trouble is not that it spun or had unreliable bounce, but that it was devoid of moisture in a wet climate. It really reeked of trying to get an unreasonable home advantage. That being said - I wish it was Mahanama reporting on the pitch not Broad as he has a fair bit of baggage v the sub-continent.

  • smudgeon on September 7, 2011, 5:29 GMT

    "Better Galle than blandness". Sums up my thoughts entirely. But then to blame a pitch 100% for some of the horrid scorecards mentioned above (the SL v India match for a start) isn't necessarily fair, as there is such a thing as "playing for a win". If both teams played like that every match (yeah, I know, fat chance), I'm sure that would go some way to negating the roads which offer the opportunity to rack up massive totals without any intent to force a result.

  • ygkd on September 7, 2011, 5:30 GMT

    I don't see why any fellow Australians should complain about Galle. Oz won didn't it? And it is Sri Lanka. Do we expect them to produce a WACA or a Gabba?

  • bobagorof on September 7, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    I have always maintained that a bowler-friendly pitch every so often keeps the interest in Test cricket. Sure, we all love to see our team batting well - but the mark of great batsmen is not that they score heavily in favourable conditions, but that they hang around and find a way to score when the going is tough. 'Test cricket is a test of one mentally and technically' is a line often trotted out by batsmen, so they should have no complaints when their technique is given a chance to shine. As for the match finishing early - surely a good, absorbing contest (as Galle was) over 4 days will draw the crowds in more than a 5 day bat-fest. So the ticket sales may end up being comparable despite a day's play. Unless, that is, the public has been brought up to expect run rates of 8-10 an over. Whoops.

  • stormy16 on September 7, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    I was surprised at this issue with the pitch given the only hundred was made in the 4th innings and Mahela didnt see too many horrors and Harris got a 5fer in the 4th innings and spinner got one in the 4th innings. The only real problem was SL batted themselves out of the game on day 2. Sure it wasnt a 400 run wicket but why should it be - there was a contest and everyone had an opportunity. If SL managed to get 200+ on the first innings it would have been a great game and still was a decent game. I agree with the notion that the bigger issue would be the SSC wicket where only two innings are completed or other such wickets where there is no contest. Also what about green tops where the home team are able to bat on but the visiting team is shot out - is that a contest on an unfair contest? Am I imagining of does Chris Broad seem to make strange decisions and isnt it time Broad be taken out give his son is playing against players and countries he is making calls on or is that just ok??

  • Reggaecricket on September 7, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    The pitch was not a dangerous pitch, there were 2 scores of 90+ and a hundred scored on that pitch. As you have very rightly said there was plenty for all the bowlers, too. Clarke reckons the OZs would have won even batting second. If a few Sri Lankan batsmen had stuck it out like Mahela and Angelo did, we would have had an even better/closer finish. A visiting side won the game which was an even contest between bat and ball. Broad is either loyal to commercial TV interests or his prejudices are being exposed yet again!

  • on September 7, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    right again rob...didn't jayawardene score a ton because he applied himself?hint!! didn't sri lanka because of good off spin and shocking shot selection.leaving a gap between bat and pad is not advisable to bowlers who can bowl off-cutters.someone please tell the ICC to grow up.