Falling standards of pitches – worrying players.

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Cricket in the old days consisted of well dressed English officers just passing their time. Ever since the mid 90s it has been on the rise to become a renowned international sport. With the passage of time not only have the rules been altered, but the way the game is played has seen a change as well. The most apparent change has been the state of the pitches around the world.

A cricket pitch is a strip of land in the centre of a field, which has two sets of stumps at both ends. The bowler has to bowl from both ends throughout a match. When comparing the modern day cricket with old days, the topic of the state of pitches has been brought up now and again. According to the experts, pitches have become flatter.

 Due to this very reason, it has been difficult to compare the old players with the new ones. There are points, which support both sides. With the inclusion of One-day and T20 cricket there has been an incline towards favouring the batsmen over the bowlers. Nowadays, bowlers find it hard to move the ball of the pitch, while batsmen easily fend the ball to all parts of the ground. This makes it not fair to compare the modern day fast bowlers or batsmen with the old greats.

Countries have started to create pitches which suit the batsmen, as easy boundaries are crowd pullers. Countries in the sub-continent are prime examples of this. The tour of Srilanka to India in 2009 was a display of batsmen butchering the bowlers. The legend Muralitharan managed to take only 9 wickets in his three matches, with an average of 65.66. There was a sad display of one-sided cricket, where the bowlers like Muralitharan could not spin the ball. Batsmen continued to dominate, which is supported by the fact that they were 14 centuries made in the series. The recent series between these two teams saw the same wicket in the second test. This was criticised by both the teams.

‘If there is nothing for fast bowlers in a wicket, it should at least help the spinners,’ said Dhoni. ‘This one was just for batsmen, while the bowlers got spanked all around the park.’

Dhoni can criticise all he wants, but the fact is India created the same unsupportive tracks when Srilanka toured India. At least Srilanka had the courtesy to create better wickets in the first and last test.

This is why the pace and bounce of pitches in Australia and South Africa made life difficult for sub-continent batsmen. The batting greats of Asia averaged pretty low when playing away from home. Virendar Sehwag averages 41.42 when playing away from Asia, while his average at home is 61.51. The same is the story of all the Asian batsmen.

Sadly, this trend of dead wickets has been passed on to the rest of the world as well. Countries which were popular for making seaming tracks like Australia and South Africa have also started to make flatter tracks as well. The Perth pitch was famous for its pace and bounce. The former Australian Captain Steve Waugh regarded the Perth wicket to be dangerous.

“Perth is a bouncy wicket. It’s unique in world cricket and there is always a chance somebody is going to get hurt over there.”

This has changed, where slow bowlers have started to play an influential role in the match. When India came to Australia, Perth failed to live up to its name. The famous defeat from the hands of the Indians, still haunts the Australians. Ricky Ponting went on to blame the Perth wicket.

“We got duped a bit there last year. We had heard so much about the WACA being at its fast and bouncy best. India played us on a wicket that hadn’t been re-laid and we went in with four fast bowlers. That brought us undone a bit.”

Like the Perth ground, the other wickets all around the globe have fallen in standards. The advent of T20s has made batting more popular. Who would want to be a fast bowler when batsmen can hit you on all parts of the ground no matter the delivery? Hopefully, we can again see the fair battle between bat and ball. The pitches which were famous for showing the player’s reflection could return once again. For this to be successful ICC has to step in, before this gets out of hand.

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