Sri Lanka Cricket has been given an official ICC warning for preparing a "poor" pitch in Galle for the first Test against Australia that was played from August 31-September 3. The ICC's pitch consultant Andy Atkinson will inspect the pitch at the end of this month and make recommendations about any corrective action required. SLC, for its part, will need to submit a report confirming the recommended corrective action, if any, has been taken prior to staging its next international match in Galle.
The Galle Test, won by Australia, lasted four days, with the home team being dismissed for 105 and 253 in its 125-run defeat. The match referee for the game Chris Broad had expressed his concern about the pitch to the ICC. Richardson and the ICC's chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle, relying on Broad's report, the SLC's response and video footage from the game, then made their decision.
"We have come to a decision that the pitch prepared for the match should be rated as 'poor'," Dave Richardson, the ICC's general manager for cricket, said in a statement. "It was clear from the video footage of the match that the amount of turn, especially early in the match, was excessive and there were occasions (even on the first day) where the ball went through the surface of the pitch, bouncing unusually steeply from a good length.
"Whilst it is understandable and acceptable for a pitch to deteriorate over the course of the match, for a pitch to exhibit this type of behavior at relatively early stages of the match was not acceptable. Whilst we do not wish to see a pitch that is too heavily weighted in favour of the batsmen, in this instance, the balance was just too much in favour of the bowler."
Richardson said that since this is the first time the Galle pitch has come up for such scrutiny, the penalty was confined to a warning. "Taking into account that it was the first time that a pitch at Galle has been rated as "poor" and given the intention of the curator to prepare a pitch that provided a fair balance between bat and ball, we have decided to impose a warning as the sanction," he said.
"We have also directed that ICC's pitch consultant Andy Atkinson carry out an inspection of the square with a view to making recommendations to ensure that in future the manner of preparation is in line with what is required to ensure that a better balance between bat and ball is achieved."
The ICC has imposed harsher penalties in the past. The Ferozshah Kotla ground in Delhi was banned from hosting any international matches in 2010 after an India-Sri Lanka ODI in January that year had to be abandoned due to a "dangerous" pitch.