Matches (14)
ENG v WI (1)
RHF Trophy (1)
Legends WC (2)
T20 Blast (8)
MLC (2)

Nine deadly pitches

The Wanderers has become the ninth full-member pitch to be rated 'poor' or worse since the ICC introduced its pitch and outfield monitoring process

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
Where's the green? The pitch at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, July 5, 2014

In 2014, Trent Bridge rolled out a surface slow and low enough for the ICC to issue an official warning  •  ESPNcricinfo Ltd/Sidharth Monga

Since the introduction of ICC's pitch and outfield monitoring process in 2006, 14 international pitches have been rated poor or worse by match referees. Nine of the 14 pitches have belonged to ICC full members. If the five matches in Canada - four of them within two days - are taken out, four of the remaining nine pitches to face sanction have been in India. Here is a list of the nine full-member pitches.
Rating: Poor
Reason: Too dry and too much turn and variable bounce
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama
What happened: Trailing 1-0 after being bowled out for 76 on a moist pitch in Ahmedabad, India defeated South Africa in three days to level the series. South Africa were bowled out for 121 in the second innings. "My considered view 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," said Mahanama in his report.
"It was a poor cricket wicket, though I can understand the reason behind it," South Africa's then coach Micky Arthur said. "But the practice facilities and the accommodation left a lot to be desired for an international venue."
The fallout: Kanpur got away with an official warning because it had no previous record of producing a substandard pitch
Rating: Unfit
Reason: Random, dangerous and uneven bounce
Match referee: Alan Hurst
What happened: India had already won the five-match ODI series when they came to Delhi for the last match, but only 23.3 overs were bowled before it was decided the pitch offered "extremely variable bounce and was too dangerous for further play". The bounce varied from shin to shoulder height from similar areas.
The fallout: Feroz Shah Kotla was banned from hosting international cricket for a year, but that was actually a reprieve: had the ICC imposed the maximum penalty of two years, Delhi would have lost out on 2011 World Cup matches.
The BCCI sacked its grounds and pitches committee, headed then by Daljit Singh, who duly came back and still heads the committee.
Rating: Poor
Reason: Too flat
Match referee: Jeff Crowe
What happened: Nineteen wickets fell over five days as South Africa declared at 543 for 6, only for West Indies to overhaul the total. "This was not an exciting surface on which to play Test cricket," South Africa captain Graeme Smith said. "We were all looking for a good, even battle between bat and ball. Hopefully, Barbados [next Test] will have a little bit more in the pitch, and it will be more of a fair challenge for both sides."
The ICC noted that "it was remnants of a T20 pitch from a few weeks ago".
The fallout: After due consideration, the rating was changed to "below average". No penalty or fines. Since this match, St Kitts has hosted one further Test, which Pakistan won.
Rating: Poor
Reason: Excessive spin early on and further deterioration
Match referee: Chris Broad
What happened: The Test ended on the fourth day with spinners taking 18 of the first 30 wickets to fall. In the last innings, fast bowler Ryan Harris took a five-for as Australia won by 125 runs. However, Australia captain Michael Clarke and his predecessor Ricky Ponting said day one felt like day five.
David Richardson, then the ICC's general manager for cricket, said: "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."
The fallout: The ground was officially warned, and ICC's pitch consultant Andy Atkinson was to inspect the pitch before it hosted further international cricket. Galle remains one of Sri Lanka's iconic Test venues. In 10 Tests since the warning, Galle has produced one draw but has generally remained bowler-friendly. Two of the 10 Tests have ended in three days, but they haven't been considered to have produced "excessive turn" early in the match.
Rating: Poor
Reason: Too flat
Match referee: David Boon
What happened: The first Test of the series brought a glut of runs, including 81 from No. 11 James Anderson and twin fifties for No. 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar. It was widely touted as a "chief executive's pitch", designed to ensure gate receipts over five days. Anderson the bowler was left frustrated that edges didn't carry on the low and slow surface.
The fallout: An official warning and a requirement for the ground to furnish the ECB pitch consultant's report before international cricket the next season. The only Test at Trent Bridge since then ended in three days with England bowling Australia out for 60 on a green seamer. That particular green pitch is often the counter given by irate players or coaches when the quality of a rank turner in Asia is questioned.
Rating: Poor
Reason: Excessive turn and uneven bounce throughout the match
Match referee: Jeff Crowe
What happened: After losing the ODI and T20I series to South Africa, in the words of India director Ravi Shastri, India took a chance and rolled out a turner in the first Test of the series in Mohali. That three-day finish paled in comparison with the third Test, in Nagpur, where the degree of turn, the bounce, and the pace off the pitch were all variable. South Africa were bowled out for 79 in their first innings; India's 215 on day one was the highest score of the match.
The fallout: An official warning was given even though the BCCI questioned the rating. In the World T20 the same season, Nagpur produced mainly turning tracks with India bowled out for, well, 79 in the tournament opener against New Zealand.
Rating: Poor
Reason: Loose soil on both ends and spinners' deliveries exploding from the surface early in the match
Match referee: Chris Broad
What happened: After beating New Zealand, England and Bangladesh emphatically in a long home season, India went for a turner in Pune, against the wishes of the local curator. Australia enjoyed the advantage of batting first and then their spinners became unstoppable. India made only 212 runs - their lowest match aggregate at home after losing 20 wickets.
The fallout: The ground was given a warning but was allowed to continue hosting international cricket. In October 2017, it hosted a low-scoring ODI in which seamers took the majority of the wickets. The pitch curator, Pandurang Salgaoncar, was involved in a much more serious controversy this time, as a TV channel claimed to have caught him on tape trading information about the pitch.
Rating: Poor
Reason: Pitch neither favoured the batsmen too much nor gave the bowlers sufficient opportunity to take wickets
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle
What happened: The MCG's curator had resigned and his replacement was yet to arrive, so the preparation of the pitch for the Boxing Day Test of the 2017-18 Ashes was left in the hands of the arena operations manager. He tried to play it safe by leaving little grass on the surface and repeatedly rolling it, but the result was a pitch that did not deteriorate over the five days. In addition, the bounce, according to Ranjan Madugalle, the match referee, was "medium, but slow in pace and got slower as the match progressed." Only 24 wickets were taken during the Test, while the runs came at less than three an over. Steven Smith, the Australia captain, criticised the pitch for offering nothing to the bowlers. "We saw some reverse swing, but the ball just gets so soft so quickly because the surface is quite hard," he said. "It gets soft, doesn't carry through, and it's really difficult to get people out. I just don't think it's good for anyone."
The fallout: Cricket Australia has 14 days to reply to the ICC.
Rating: Poor
Reason: Excessively steep and unpredictable bounce, and excessive seam movement
Match referee: Andy Pycroft
What happened: The ball had been swinging and seaming prodigiously on the first day, but it was when a few deliveries jumped up from a length and hit batsmen on day two that concerns were raised about the surface. Batsmen from both teams were struck on the gloves through the second and third day, with the team physios making several trips to the centre. To complicate matters, some deliveries kept low and some moved dramatically sideways after hitting cracks. On the third day, the umpires were seen having several discussions with each other on whether the match should be abandoned due to a dangerous pitch. When Dean Elgar, the South Africa opener, was hit on the helmet by a short-of-a-length delivery from Jasprit Bumrah on the third evening, the players were taken off the field, leading to fears the game would indeed be called off, which would mean a one-year ban for the Wanderers, one of South Africa's premier venues. However, the game continued on the fourth day. While India's Ajinkya Rahane said the pitch was "challenging but not dangerous", Elgar suggested the match should have been abandoned.
The fallout: The Wanderers has been given three demerit points. If the ground accrues two more demerit points within the next five years, it would lead to a one-year ban.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo