Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Karachi, 3rd day February 23, 2009

Lifeless Karachi track comes in for criticism

Cricinfo staff

Younis Khan: "If we play boring Tests people won't come to the stadiums. What are we showing to the people?" © AFP

The pitch at the National Stadium in Karachi, where 940 runs have been scored in three days for the loss of six wickets, has come in for sharp criticism from the principals in the match - the two coaches and Pakistan's captain - who said it was bad for Test cricket. Younis Khan, whose century in his first Test back as captain allowed Pakistan to move closer to saving the match, wondered if those responsible were reluctant to make sporting tracks.

"I am not the type of man to give excuses if we lose but I didn't want to have this type of wicket," Younis said. "I fail to understand and I think everyone is afraid [to make a good pitch]. The wicket should be result-oriented so that I can know the strength of the players. We have to go to Australia, we have to play against South Africa and New Zealand.

"For the last two days what I've read in newspapers is everyone criticising the wicket," he said. "If you see Pakistan's success outside Pakistan it's better than home. We are always in trouble at home, but I can't say who has made this wicket because I too don't know.

Younis pointed to a difference in the pitches used for domestic and international cricket. "If you look at the wickets in domestic matches, Sohail Khan and Yasir Arafat have taken a good number of wickets. I think there's some courses on how to make pitches and there's no shame in doing such courses."

Barely 200 spectators rattled around the 34,000-capacity National Stadium, with even offers of free tickets failing to draw fans. Younis felt if matches continued to be played on such tracks people would not come to watch. "Test cricket gets boring if we play on such wickets. They [Sri Lanka] scored over 600 and now we are going well and people won't come to the stadiums. Two top spinners from Sri Lanka are playing but they are not troubling us. We too have Danish [Kaneria] and Umar Gul, [but] if we play boring Tests people won't come to the stadiums. What are we showing the people?"

Sri Lanka's coach Trevor Bayliss was also disappointed with the quality of the track and wondered about their impact on Test cricket. "It's very flat and I think if both teams had taken their half chances the scores may be not quite as high as they are," he said. "But still like to see wickets with little bit in them. A better cricket wicket is, I suppose, one that is better for the bowlers and probably better for the batters too, with the ball coming on to the bat a little better. But you get these wickets every now and you've got to put up with it and do as best as possible you can."

He did, however, sound a cautionary note. "It would be bad for Test cricket if you get one of these every time. Most of the time the wickets around the world are pretty good but every now and then you get a wicket that favours batsmen, which obviously makes the work hard for the bowlers."

On Sunday, after Pakistan's bowlers had spent two days toiling in the field, their coach Intikhab Alam said he was disappointed with the slow pitch. "We were not expecting such a wicket, we needed a wicket that should have had grass and some bounce because we rely on our fast bowlers," he said. "Unfortunately that type of wicket could not be made and it is too suitable for batsmen."

Alam stopped just short of suggesting the curators were purposely preparing batsman-friendly pitches to maximize TV revenues and was sure discussions would be held on the matter. "I've suggested that wherever you go in the world they don't touch the centre wicket," he said. "It's especially reserved for Test matches. They play on the side wickets [but] here the problem is that sponsor wants to play on centre wicket because they want to televise the matches (in domestic cricket)."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rizwan on February 24, 2009, 10:45 GMT

    watching net practise is more interesting than the actual match... i would rather watch an old match on youtube rather than watching the match going on right now.

    @ max luther - great suggestion!

  • Max on February 24, 2009, 7:41 GMT

    TV Revenues dictate that as close to 450 overs (over 15 sessions) should be played during a test match, irrespective of result, as that allows broadcasters to greater number of TV spots.

    The only way to solve this problem is :

    (1) Provide definitions for non-result games:

    (L1) Exciting Draws (L2) Draws (L3) Dull Draw (L4) Super Dull Draw

    L2 could be a shortened game hampered by bad weather or a game which looked like it could bear a result at some point but finally fizzled out into a lame draw.

    (2) Next penalise Stadiums for producing L3 (ban = 8 months) or L4 (ban = 16 months) matches

    (3) Ask Cricket Boards to sign a clause with TV Broadcasters, where they would not pay a fixed fee per test match, but instead a fee where results and exciting draws would attract a 10%/20% premium. While L3 & L4 games could provide 15%/30% discounts.

    In time, broadcasters will extend these same terms to advertisers, and economics will dictate more result oriented pitches.

  • Tariq on February 23, 2009, 22:36 GMT

    agreed with what Younis has to say!

  • kaiser 1 on February 23, 2009, 20:47 GMT

    There should have been Muhammad Aamer, Muhammad Talha, Anwar Ali Khan, Fawad alam in the team plus Sarfraaz ahmed, instead of certain others everybody knows about. Look at indian they always keep fresh faces coming with talent and at merit still there are others vying for place but in PCB run administration nothing good comes out but only a stupid and useless things come out which embarasses us living in foreign countries in front of others. If there is no quality and versatility then all this fuss is useless. but i would also like to point out the umpiring flaws, quite a number of lbw's decisions were not given out. shame on umpires also. Who takes any notice of umpiring flaws and punishes umpires. Everbody is upholding the the greatest rubbish decision of darrel hair at the oval to forefeit brought about as a result of his own wrong blame on pakistan team. ICC is reversing its own decisions back and forth. What a shame. Thanks

  • Callum on February 23, 2009, 20:16 GMT

    The rest of the world is doing cricket a massive favour by refusing to go to Pakistan if these are the sort of decks we can expect to see.

  • Mark on February 23, 2009, 18:42 GMT

    Everyone should stop complaining and maybe the bowlers should try and use more initiative in trying to get batsmen out. Bowlers become too negative too quickly when things don't go their way. What was Mendis and Murali doing trying to ball a leg-stump line at one stage? Maybe they should try to use all the expertise at their disposal and try and prize the batsmen out by exploiting weaknesses. Also, it must be remembered that Younis Khan was roundly criticised for his field-placings in the Lankans' first innings - that is understood to have helped them to pile on such a lot of runs. Do the Asian teams like Pakistan then want quick-paced wickets knowing full well they won't be able to handle the pace as we have witnessed in past series, especially away from home. Okay for sure, they have to start playing on faster pitches to acquaint themselves with such surfaces. But it all evens out in the end, bowlers will have their day, so too will batsmen.

  • Shuvro on February 23, 2009, 18:05 GMT

    Once again hypocrisy by PCB & Pakistan Coach, avoiding the truth. Sponsors, middle pitch, TV rights all are bogus, Pitch is dead & lifeless, becos Pakistan is afraid of loosing at home, partly because of their vandal spectators, partly because of their stupid media. Few years back at Lahore, when over 1000 scored for 6/7 wickts, (Ind-Pak), the then PCB Chairman made me lough, "Because of poor & misty weather, the wicket became over prepared". This stupid management don't even understand that, in a 2 Test Rubber, you can't allow visitors to settle for 2nd Test.

    Even after a long break, without Shoheb, Asif & Yousuf, on Pakistan soil, Srilanka can win a Test match, only on the type of wicket, provided to them at Karachi. YK is an honest & straight forward man, that's why we are hearing some valid criticisms, had Malik been the captain, this pitch would have been praised for it pace & bounce, only for the bowlers not taking advantage in morning dew & fielders not taking half chances

  • Johnny on February 23, 2009, 16:05 GMT

    Pakistan cricket is funny. They blame everyone and anyone who refuses to play there of 'depriving' their country of cricket yet we see 200 people out of a stadium capacity of 34000 attend a test match after 14 months of cricket 'starvation'. So whos depriving whom of what?

    Face it Pakistan is a very lacklustre and boring team, riddled with internal and external bickering. They have nothing to offer other than excuses, and people are sick of them and that team. Face another fact, Pakistans spectators watch only and ONLY when their team plays their old enemy India. If India doesnt play Pakistanis dont watch, hence the true crowd pullers are the Indians. Thats the truth serum right there.

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