Some time ago I wrote about the problems of ridiculously flat pitches in modern cricket. So often players turn up to a test arena and find a pitch that a child could easily steer a remote control car down with no risk of injury. Flat pitches mean lots of runs, but in reality means boring games that are not a fair competition between bat and ball.
So, what a refreshing surprise it was to see the recent test match between Australia and Pakistan. The game was played on a pitch that certainly offered up plenty to the bowlers on the first two days, then gave some good batting, and then offered plenty for the spinner on the last day…the result?? An absolutely cracking match that went right down to the wire.
You really couldn’t have asked for a better test, and it is my belief that the pitch played a big part in the result. Firstly it resulted in a flurry of excitement over what the captain who won the toss should do. Commentators were discussing this at length, and Ricky Ponting’s decision to bat was at first heavily criticised, but then due to the quality of the pitch, and the quality of his team, his decision was vindicated. Furthermore, it resulted in the crowd and television viewers seeing a match that had lots of wickets, runs, and great excitement. I attended the second day of the Boxing Day test a couple of weeks ago, and the pitch was so flat that I witnessed some of the more boring cricket I have ever seen; the bowlers just had no hope. What a flat pitch does is result in the batsmen having all the say in how the game is played, if they want to score slowly (as the Pakistani’s did that day) then the game will go slow. But the SCG pitch meant that both bowlers and batsmen could equally jostle for the momentum and the upper hand.
All in all it was a fantastic match, and of course the players deserve much of the credit, but if we have more pitches like the one at the SCG this week, then test cricket will certainly be reinvigorated, and its future will certainly be assured.
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