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Thread: What's a good pitch?

  1. #1
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    What's a good pitch?

    http://blogs.cricinfo.com/diffstroke...pitch.php#more

    November 26, 2008

    Posted by Michael Jeh 5 hours, 37 minutes ago

    What's a good pitch?

    Today, I received my regular M.C.C Newsletter from Lord’s which talked about some of the issues that were canvassed by the M.C.C World Cricket Committee Meeting in October. It talked about the decline of spin bowling and the need to get away from the philosophy that “if the first ball seams, it’s a good wicket; if the first ball spins, it is a bad wicket”.

    At the Gabba last week, we saw a fairly mediocre New Zealand batting line up clinically dismantled by a four-pronged Aussie seam attack. Given the wild storms that hit Brisbane in the days leading up to the game, it was no surprise really to see a pitch that was even more conducive to fast bowling than is normally the case. This is usually a surface that favours the quickies anyway – the ground staff worked miracles to prepare a playing surface of this quality.

    Initially, when Australia was bowled out cheaply in the first innings, there was the usual debate about whether the pitch was too helpful to the seam bowlers. Sensible commentators simply accepted that this was part of the challenge of playing in Australian conditions and no more excuses were made for a fairly poor batting display by most of the batsmen apart from Michael Clarke and Simon Katich. Daniel Vettori was magnanimous in defeat, conceding that his batsmen did not have the skills or experience to cope with these very-Australian conditions. No apologies, no excuses.

    A few ignorant callers to a radio program that I host referred to the so-called ‘doctored’ pitches in India as an excuse why the Australians surrendered the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. I'm afraid I failed to grasp their logic.

    In general though, many cricketers still cling to the notion that hard, fast and bouncy = GOOD but low, dusty and spinning = BAD. Even in lower levels of cricket, the word ‘good’ is invariably used to describe a surface that is hard and fast whereas a dry, slow pitch that looks like it might turn is immediately disparaged. Perhaps it is an inadvertent use of the term ‘good’, unlike in horse racing where it is merely used to describe a certain type of surface rather than give it positive or negative attributes. For too long, cricket has always associated fast pitches with being good pitches.

    In Mumbai in 2004, Australia was bowled out chasing a low score and the pitch was widely panned for being sub-standard because they scored less then 100 runs in the last innings. In the very next Test, NZ was shot out for 76 at the Gabba on a good wicket. A few weeks later at the WACA, Pakistan were humbled for just 72 runs in the final innings but there was still no question whatsoever about the quality of the pitch. It was just that the hapless touring teams were unable to cope with the skills required to cope with the extra pace and bounce. No apologies, no excuses.

    It was not always so. In the 1980s when the West Indies fast bowlers were running rampant, Australia deliberately prepared spinning pitches in Sydney for Bob Holland, Murray Bennett and even Allan Border to spin Australia to victory. The mighty West Indian batsmen had their techniques shown up as being inadequate to even counter part-time spinners like Border. No apologies, no excuses.

    The famous Gabba pitch is now under threat from a plan to rip it up to make the centre wicket area softer for the winter football codes. If this happens, it is likely to lose the unique character that makes it such an attractive cricket destination. That will be a shame because one of the great things about Test cricket is watching touring sides cope with first day conditions in steamy Brisbane at the start of a series. If you can’t handle the pace, bounce and seam movement, that’s just bad luck. You come to Australia, you learn to play on our pitches. No apologies, no excuses.

    So long as the reverse also applies for Test cricket played in other parts of the world. As Sachin Tendulkar once said “just because it spins, does that mean it’s not Test cricket?” No apologies, no excuses.
    Wow!!!! My thoughts!!!

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    The Wheel is Forever silentstriker's Avatar
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    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    A good pitch, for me, is one that is receptive to spin, or seam, (or both which is occasionally possible, though rarely) and remains the same for a lengthy period (ideally the whole match, but that's not always possible).

    A bad pitch is a pitch that changes drastically, because then the toss becomes too important. Whether it's a seamer that stops seaming or a non-turner that turns into a turner (not that the latter is that common any more). A bad pitch is also a pitch that does nothing for seam or spin all game and results in 600 plays 550. Nothing more boring than that.

    I like a good turning surface in India or Sri Lanka, and I like a good seaming deck in England, South Africa, New Zealand or West Indies. Or parts of Australia. I don't particularly like an uneven deck, but like a non-seaming-non-spinning one, the odd one here and there is good for a bit of variety.

    I also don't like decks that seam or spin enormously if they occur too often. Once a series, or once every couple of series, is fine.

    I like a good variance between quick, high-bouncy pitches and slow, low-bouncy pitches. As long as they have a bit of seam and\or turn. I don't want to see too many really quick or too many really slow pitches. And I hate a slow, low-bouncy pitch with no seam or turn.
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    State Regular jondavluc's Avatar
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    Spinning tracks are good you don't see enough of them thats my opinion.


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    Hall of Fame Member social's Avatar
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    Fair enough article except for:

    "In the 1980s when the West Indies fast bowlers were running rampant, Australia deliberately prepared spinning pitches in Sydney for Bob Holland, Murray Bennett and even Allan Border to spin Australia to victory."

    Anyone around at the time knows that the true character of the SCG pitch was shown in those matches

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    Rather more alarming is that anyone thought Murray Bennett spun Australia to victory.

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    A good pitch is where 300 is a good score and 400 is a potentially match-winning one.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pskov View Post
    A good pitch is where 300 is a good score and 400 is a potentially match-winning one.
    Wouldn't disagree that that's a good pitch, but it's certainly not the only thing that's a good pitch.

    I don't even mind seeing one where you can get 500-plays-400 then still see a result. Though I myself prefer 250-plays-270 etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pskov View Post
    A good pitch is where 300 is a good score and 400 is a potentially match-winning one.
    Nicely put.

    It's rare that really high-scoring games are good games (with some exceptions, obviously - eg Lords 1990 and Adelaide 2006). So I want something there for the bowler throughout. And I do like a pitch to change character a little as the game progresses, and not only by the appearance of uneven bounce. And a low-scoring game is usually an exciting one.

    Pace is almost always a good thing. It just makes for better cricket all round. It helps everyone - the ball carries, bouncers bounce, batsmen can play their shots. And fast pitches can be good news for spinners too - as a long-suffering legspinner I've always loved to bowl on a pitch with pace and bounce.

  12. #12
    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaremba View Post
    And I do like a pitch to change character a little as the game progresses, and not only by the appearance of uneven bounce.
    I don't. As I say, it often means the toss becomes important, which I really don't like. I like the side which bowls best, not first or second, to have the best chance of victory.

    I hate to see a pitch that seams for a couple of sessions then dries-out and flattens into a complete pancake. I hate to see pitches that behave OK for a day and a bit then crumble to dust. I hate even to see pitches that seam for a couple of days then stop - it means I'm licking my lips with some seaming sensation having been served for the main course only to have dessert swiped from under the nose.

    I always like a pitch that seams to seam all game, and a pitch that turns to do it from ball one. Then you find the men from the boys, and no-one can moan that the toss robbed them.

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    Cricketer Of The Year zaremba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    I don't. As I say, it often means the toss becomes important, which I really don't like. I like the side which bowls best, not first or second, to have the best chance of victory.

    I hate to see a pitch that seams for a couple of sessions then dries-out and flattens into a complete pancake. I hate to see pitches that behave OK for a day and a bit then crumble to dust. I hate even to see pitches that seam for a couple of days then stop - it means I'm licking my lips with some seaming sensation having been served for the main course only to have dessert swiped from under the nose.

    I always like a pitch that seams to seam all game, and a pitch that turns to do it from ball one. Then you find the men from the boys, and no-one can moan that the toss robbed them.
    I understand where you're coming from.

    But I'm not suggesting I'd like a Jekyll-and-Hyde pitch, simply one that develops a little as the game progresses.

  14. #14
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    Off the top of my head, the best pitches in cricket i've seen are the ones that have been at Old Trafford tests for a while- the bounce on the first couple of days isn't uneven, so batsmen don't get out to real smellers, but it's very fast so the bowlers always have a chance. Equally, the pace ensures that bad bowling gets punished regularly and the match doesn't get bogged down. The runs are always there for a quality batsman. As the pitch wears on, the spinners always come into it more and if they bowl well can be the big match-winners. It's one of the few pitches with literally something in it for everyone.

    Shame it's been ditched indefinitely.

  15. #15
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    For me, the ones that have a bit of grass on it, and some moisture. Definitely better than a dry, flat pitch that offers nothing but banging it in short.

    Also prefer that it hasn't hosted any other sports before hand, otherwise it can result in a sticky wicket.
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