Sunday, January 24, 2016

Impact of Flat Batting Pitches in Cricket

Cricket pitches have become flat over the years almost all around the globe. In the years gone by, when I was growing up, there was a thrill and mystery surrounding a cricket pitch as there was associating with the actual teams and the match at hand itself. There was the WACA and Gabba which were fast and bouncy with the batsmen facing chin music, Wanderers was fast and pacy, Kiwi and English pitches with the correct overhead conditions assisted and rewarded bowlers with seam and swing, the dusty tracks in India which aided spin, Sri Lankan pitches which had something in the first hour or two for the fast bowlers and then turned in to batting paradise’s.

But the flavour of these pitches have grown more and more bland in the recent times. You cannot distinguish a pitch in Australia or South Africa to the one in India or New Zealand. They all appear to be the same, favouring the batsmen on most occasions. With heavy bats and short boundaries, the bowler is often left wondering why he is playing the game in the first place. A sad reality, but are flat pitches really what a spectator really needs? What do the players feel regarding the same? And what about the administrators on whom so much of the onus lies to safeguard our great game.

A spectator definitely enjoys runs being scored and boundaries and sixes being hit but let me tell you after a point it just becomes boring. When you know that all a batsman has to do is half connect and the ball will race away you feel cheated. There is no balance between the bat and the ball. Most of the rules are loaded in the favour of the batsmen. It is boring to see teams score 300-350 on a regular basis. It is much more enjoyable to watch a batsman on a difficult track grind out the runs for his side and put a premium on his wicket. How he negotiates the elements and uses all his skills and judgement to survive is so engrossing and salivating.

I am sure the cricketers themselves rate a 70* scored on a difficult minefield of a track while saving a match for his side when compared to bashing a 200 on a flat deck which offers to semblance of help to the bowlers.

The administrators have the responsibility of keeping the balance between the bat and the ball and not stack the game completely in either’s favour. The bowlers must not feel that they are just there as pigs waiting to be slaughtered but they must be given an equal chance to showcase their skills.

The impact of flat decks is that it leads to a negative publicity of the game, lessening the skills required to play the game and increases the chances of injury to the bowlers. It also becomes pretty tedious to watch every second ball race off the turf towards the boundary. Thus it is very important that the ICC makes sure that the quality of the pitches is looked in to and the uniqueness of every pitch is savoured and celebrated.
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