Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo
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A wicked thought flashed in my mind after two of the first three balls of the one-day match between India and England at Goa passed the off stump about a foot above the ground: what if this turns out be a sub-100 affair? Would the ICC send out inspectors under their new regulations for pitch monitoring? Would Goa become the first venue to be banished?
A pitch that isn¹t fit for cricket ought be banished. But who will decide what is not fit for and how? Physical danger to batsmen is a reasonable criterion. A Test match at Sabina Park was once abandoned because the state of the newly laid pitch was deemed dangerous. The other concern should be about a pitch making it impossible for players to exhibit their skills. A pitch that produces ankle-high bounce hardly gives batsmen a chance?
What do we then make of a pitch that produces 872 runs in 100 overs?
Nothing riles me more than commentators, who are quick to label a pitch with variable bounce as dodgy, referring to belters as beauties. I presume it has nothing to do with the fact that a majority of the world¹s leading commentators are batsmen, and all to with the age-old prejudice in favour of the bat.
The pitch at Goa didn’t quite turn out to be the monster it threatened to be in the first two or three overs. But it remained a difficult pitch to score on all day, which made Yuvraj Singh’s 73-ball hundred truly special, perhaps even better than his hundred against Australia at Sydney in 2004. But in an ironical way, his innings eventually made the match much less exciting because it the match out of England’s reach. So even though the match in Goa produced the highest number of runs in the series so far, it was also the least interesting. Am I making any sense?