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It’s time ICC intervene and create sporting pitches

Host countries should no longer be allowed to create pitches for a favourable result

18:44 January 14, 2018

For fans to get opportunities to watch good competitive cricket, it’s time pitches are made not just to suit the home country. It gets exciting only when visiting teams too manage to win on a challenging the pitch; but that does not seem to be happening these days. Pakistan got thrashed by New Zealand in the one-day series in New Zealand, India have lost the first Test in Newlands on a fast pitch after just three days of action, and England too surrendered meekly to Australia. If visiting teams keep losing to hosts, cricket will fail to attract fans very soon.

South African skipper Faf du Plessis candidly stated that he has asked for a pitch with pace and bounce for the second Test against India in Centurion. In today’s cricket, a detailed study is carried out on every team and batsman and curators are then asked to prepare pitches that would be tough for the visiting team.

It is time the International Cricket Council (ICC) took a serious view of this matter. If not, contests between teams will have no balance. If the ICC can get sporting pitches made for the World Cup matches, why not they intervene and do the same for bilateral series’ too? Isn’t it ICC’s objective to ensure fair competitive cricket around the world?

India is well known for making spinning tracks. If they are thrashed by South Africa in this ongoing series, they in turn could make pitches that spin viciously for South Africa’s next visit to India. A home team always gets the advantage of home crowd support, weather and familiarity of the ground; but if pitches too are made to be hostile for the visiting team, then cricket is bound to be one-sided.

Today the ICC intervenes only if they find that the pitch is of very poor quality. Today’s curators know how to make a pitch look good but bad for teams that are not used to that wicket. Hence sporting pitches are a must for a good battle between the ball and bat.

With a lot of money and other benefits to gain through winning, home teams make pitches that ensure them a win. No country is sporting enough to make competitive pitches. This may soon lead to quick wins for the home side, like it happened in the Newlands Test. This could also lead to television losing revenue if matches get over in three or four days.

The ICC must intervene at least in the curating of Test pitches because in one-day cricket a batsman can still hit his way out of trouble. In Test cricket, a batsman has to adapt to the basics of the game, and on unsporting pitches that may be impossible.