Indian cricket pitches have always been under great controversies. Many times Indian pitch curators have to face objections from rival teams. Be it IND vs AUS 2017 Pune test, IND vs AUS 2004 Mumbai test, or the IND vs ENG test series of 2021.
Many veteran cricketers including Michael Vaughan took to social media to criticize the Indian cricket pitches. In response to which Sir Vivian Richards took to the Indian side; he said,
“I am confused about moaning and groaning about Indian pitches”, slamming the criticism of Indian pitch curators.
The Indian Cricket Pitch Controversy: 2021
Word, “The Beach” was trending across social media after the India vs England 1st test in Chennai. Former English captain Michael Vaughan called it “The Beach.” Although, England won the 1st test handsomely by 227 runs. In the events that followed, India won the 2nd test by a huge margin of 317 runs. This is what sparked the Indian cricket pitch controversy.
If we are going to see these pitches … I have an answer to how it could work … Give the Teams 3 innings !!! 😜😜 #INDvENG
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) February 25, 2021
When India vs England 2021 test series moved from Chennai to Ahmedabad the conditions changed drastically. Now the match was D/N. A totally different affair. Also, the topography & color of the soil changed. And the color of the ball too. It was now pink from red. But what didn‘t change was the fate of England. The 3rd test was over in a span of just two days, becoming the shortest test played since WWII in terms of balls delivered . This match result added fuel to the fire of the Indian cricket pitch debate.
Who decides what’s an ideal Cricket Pitch?
In India, everybody is an expert, everybody has an opinion when it comes to cricket. But a subject as complex as cricket pitches is best left to the experts who prepare it and the players who use it.
To answer the question of who decides what’s an ideal surface is, we need to join dots between science & nature. Topography, climate, the color of soil, the color of the ball, and many more integral factors decide the nature of a Cricket Pitch. Be it India or any particular part of the world.
To understand the science behind the preparation of a cricket pitch, the understanding of the difference between red, and black soil is the most prominent factor. Chief pitch curator of MP cricket association Mr. Samandar Singh Chauhan says on the subject.
“The first thing a curator should keep in mind is what is the format of the game. Whether it is a T20, a 50-over game, or multi-day game,” said Chauhan. The limited-overs format, especially T20s, has different pitch demand. It is more about fours, and sixes. And so is the demand for ODIs and test cricket.”
Cricket Pitches Construction
According to Polly Umrigar (Indian cricketer, selector, manager, and administrator), a good pitch is a one, “which is dry, firm, well rolled and which provides even bounce throughout. Also, the pitch should last for the duration of the match.” Preparing a cricket pitch requires a lot of effort.
What are the Factors Determining Construction Of Cricket Pitches?
- SIZE AND DIMENSION of the cricket pitch
- DRAINAGE MANAGEMENT
While constructing a cricket pitch, specific materials and complex processes are followed. Certain properties like the bounce of the ball, nature of the game, spin or fast wicket, and soil have to be kept in mind. Constructors have major tasks in the form of, preparing the soil and clay, creating drainage, topsoil replacement, and much more, all done by curators and their team.
- SIZE AND DIMENSION of the cricket pitch
According to the laws of ICC, there is a specific dimension for a cricket pitch. The length and breadth of a cricket pitch is 22 yards x 3.33 yard respectively.
- DRAINAGE MANAGEMENT of the cricket pitches
One of the most important tasks to keep in mind while constructing a cricket pitch is to ensure a proper drainage system. But how to do it in hard soil?
A perimeter drain that surrounds the entire base of the cricket pitch is created. Although the entire process requires a precise operation, that’s the only way out.
Also, waterlogging is a serious problem for cricket pitches. To overcome this issue a firm foundation needs to be produced from angular 6 – 10 mm diameter gravel. Sand mixtures can be useful too. It is used to ease the water transition from the gravel.
- MATERIAL used in the construction of the cricket pitches
The material used in the construction of a cricket pitch is most important. Preparing something like a cricket pitch requires a precise mixture of numerous materials. Though, there’s no exact recipe for it. It totally depends on the will of the curator and the nature of the wicket he wants. His intention might vary from type of the game to be played on.
Moreover, watering plays a very important role in determining the nature of the cricket pitch and the way it will respond. Knowing when to water and when to roll is a game-changer. Experience is only the key in this area, and it is trial and error for new
Polly Umrigar On Indian Cricket Pitches 2021
- Is it fair for some of the England experts to blame India for preparing tracks heavily favoring their strengths?
When asked by a journalist, Umrigar said, it’s the pitch Curators who choose the pitch. They decide what surface should be there as per the format of the game. A captain can ask the home curator for a certain type of pitch, but cannot instruct him. Said Polly. “After that, the curators sit and decide. They have to follow BCCI guidelines as well. Many factors such as Evaporation, rolling, grass process, soil compositions — are kept in mind.”
The Science Of Soil!
Soil plays a key factor in the nature of any pitch. But at the same time, it’s quite a complicated subject. There’s a lot more to it than what the naked eye can see. Any debate on pitches has multiple dimensions. Be it a red-soil or a black-soil track but honestly “Color has nothing to do with the soil.” “Its composition and characteristics matter. How much clay content and sand content is being used is what makes the difference.” Besides this, factors like grass left, dryness, cracks, etc. have an impact on how the pitch will behave during a match.” As said by Polly.
What is the Difference between red soil and black soil cricket pitches.
“There is a lot of difference between both types of cricket pitches. They both have very different characteristics. “Black soil possesses more elasticity. And it lasts for a long duration. Also, it has more clay content than red soil. Whereas red soil has less elasticity and lasts for a short time.”
What are the Types Of Cricket Pitches?
There are basically 3 types of cricket pitches.
- DEAD PITCH
- DUSTY PITCH
- GREEN PITCH
DEAD CRICKET PITCH
These cricket pitches are completely flat. They do not have any grass and moisture on the surface. The grass from the pitch is rolled down and the moisture content is reduced to zero. These pitches are dark in color. It is considered as heaven for batsmen and a nightmare for bowlers.
This type of cricket pitches is mainly found in Indian subcontinents. Limited over cricket like ODI and T20s are mainly played on this type of cricket pitches. As these wickets have nothing for bowlers, these cricket pitches result in high-scoring matches. This is what makes the game played on these pitches more entertaining.
GREEN CRICKET PITCH
These cricket pitches are best suited to bowlers. The seam bowlers have a heavy advantage on this type of cricket pitch. Bowlers can expect a lot of swing on these pitches. The grass on these pitches creates a lot of movement for the seam bowlers. Green pitches are well known as a nightmare for the batsmen.
Green pitches naturally have green grass on it which creates less abrasion on the ball. Resulting in a more and easier swing. Along with swing, the bounce in these pitches is unpredictable, which makes it more dangerous for batsmen. These types of cricket pitches are found in western countries like England, South Africa, and Australia.
DUSTY CRICKET PITCH
The surface of these pitches is soft and unrolled. This creates a great advantage for the spin bowlers. These pitches are quite easier to bat on. Because the bounce of the ball is easily predictable by the batsmen. These types of cricket pitches are mostly found in subcontinents. These wickets are fairly easy to score runs. The deliveries normally stay low which is easy to play by the batsmen.
As already said, the construction of a cricket pitch requires ample of effort, along with precise materials, and the right knowledge. An entire team of experts designs the nature of a cricket pitch. It’s not fair to blame the host team and the captain on how the pitch responds in any game or in any particular situation. As we know, cricket is a game of the gentleman, therefore, it needs to be played with the same ideology. Be it on the field or off the field.