Australia in India 2016-17 February 28, 2017

Seven deadly pitches

ESPNcricinfo lists six full-member pitches that have been rated 'poor', and one that was rated 'unfit', in the years since the ICC introduced its pitch and outfield monitoring process
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In 2014, Trent Bridge rolled out a surface slow and low enough for the ICC to issue an official warning © ESPNcricinfo Ltd/Sidharth Monga

Since the introduction of ICC's pitch and outfield monitoring process in 2006, 12 international pitches have been rated poor or worse by match referees. Seven of the 12 pitches have belonged to ICC full members. If the five matches in Canada - four of them within two days - are taken out, four of the remaining seven pitches to face sanction have been in India. Here is a list of the seven full-member pitches.

India v South Africa, Test, Kanpur, 2007-08

Rating: Poor
Reason: Too dry and too much turn and variable bounce
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama

What happened: Trailing 1-0 after being bowled out for 76 on a moist pitch in Ahmedabad, India defeated South Africa in three days to level the series. South Africa were bowled out for 121 in the second innings. "My considered view is that the pitch was poor as it was too dry and had considerable turn and variable bounce from the first day... The pitch was not up to Test match standards," said Mahanama in his report.

"It was a poor cricket wicket, though I can understand the reason behind it," South Africa's then coach Micky Arthur said. "But the practice facilities and the accommodation left a lot to be desired for an international venue."

The fallout: Kanpur got away with an official warning because it had no previous record of producing a substandard pitch

India v Sri Lanka, ODI, Delhi, 2009-10

Rating: Unfit
Reason: Random, dangerous and uneven bounce
Match referee: Alan Hurst

What happened: India had already won the five-match ODI series when they came to Delhi for the last match, but only 23.3 overs were bowled before it was decided the pitch offered "extremely variable bounce and was too dangerous for further play". The bounce varied from shin to shoulder height from similar areas.

The fallout: Feroz Shah Kotla was banned from hosting international cricket for a year, but that was actually a reprieve: had the ICC imposed the maximum penalty of two years, Delhi would have lost out on 2011 World Cup matches.

The BCCI sacked its grounds and pitches committee, headed then by Daljit Singh, who duly came back and still heads the committee.

West Indies v South Africa, Test, St Kitts, 2010

Rating: Poor
Reason: Too flat
Match referee: Jeff Crowe

What happened: Nineteen wickets fell over five days as South Africa declared at 543 for 6, only for West Indies to overhaul the total. "This was not an exciting surface on which to play Test cricket," South Africa captain Graeme Smith said. "We were all looking for a good, even battle between bat and ball. Hopefully, Barbados [next Test] will have a little bit more in the pitch, and it will be more of a fair challenge for both sides."

The ICC noted that "it was remnants of a T20 pitch from a few weeks ago".

The fallout: After due consideration, the rating was changed to "below average". No penalty or fines. Since this match, St Kitts has hosted one further Test, which Pakistan won.

Sri Lanka v Australia, Test, Galle, 2011

Rating: Poor
Reason: Excessive spin early on and further deterioration
Match referee: Chris Broad

What happened: The Test ended on the fourth day with spinners taking 18 of the first 30 wickets to fall. In the last innings, fast bowler Ryan Harris took a five-for as Australia won by 125 runs. However, Australia captain Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke said day one felt like day five.

David Richardson, then the ICC's general manager for cricket, said: "It was clear from the video footage of the match that the amount of turn, especially early in the match, was excessive and there were occasions (even on the first day) where the ball went through the surface of the pitch, bouncing unusually steeply from a good length."

The fallout: The ground was officially warned, and ICC's pitch consultant Andy Atkinson was to inspect the pitch before it hosted further international cricket. Galle remains one of Sri Lanka's iconic Test venues. In 10 Tests since the warning, Galle has produced one draw but has generally remained bowler-friendly. Two of the 10 Tests have ended in three days, but they haven't been considered to have produced "excessive turn" early in the match.

England v India, Test, Nottingham, 2014

Rating: Poor
Reason: Too flat
Match referee: David Boon

What happened: The first Test of the series brought a glut of runs, including 81 from No. 11 James Anderson and twin fifties for No. 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar. It was widely touted as a "chief executive's pitch", designed to ensure gate receipts over five days. Anderson the bowler was left frustrated that edges didn't carry on the low and slow surface.

The fallout: An official warning and a requirement for the ground to furnish the ECB pitch consultant's report before international cricket the next season. The only Test at Trent Bridge since then ended in three days with England bowling Australia out for 60 on a green seamer. That particular green pitch is often the counter given by irate players or coaches when the quality of a rank turner in Asia is questioned.

India v South Africa, Test, Nagpur, 2015-16

Rating: Poor
Reason: Excessive turn and uneven bounce throughout the match
Match referee: Jeff Crowe

What happened: After losing the ODI and T20I series to South Africa, in the words of India director Ravi Shastri, India took a chance and rolled out a turner in the first Test of the series in Mohali. That three-day finish paled in comparison with the third Test, in Nagpur, where the degree of turn, the bounce, and the pace off the pitch were all variable. South Africa were bowled out for 79 in their first innings; India's 215 on day one was the highest score of the match.

The fallout: An official warning was given even though the BCCI questioned the rating. In the World T20 the same season, Nagpur produced mainly turning tracks with India bowled out for, well, 79 in the tournament opener against New Zealand.

India v Australia, Test, Pune, 2016-17

Rating: Poor
Reason: Loose surface on both ends and spinners' deliveries exploding from the surface early in the match
Match referee: Chris Broad

What happened: After beating New Zealand, England and Bangladesh emphatically in a long home season, India went for a turner in Pune, much against the wishes of the local curator. Australia won the toss, got a total on the board, and then their spinners ran through India twice in just 74 overs for the lowest match aggregate for two all-out innings in a Test in India.

The fallout: The BCCI has 14 days to reply to the ICC.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Adrian on March 3, 2017, 10:56 GMT

    I sense a common theme. More than half of these are in India! And, other than the one in Sri Lanka, all the others that were not in India were in trouble for being too good for batsmen.

  • cvelox3367772 on March 2, 2017, 15:24 GMT

    The ICC have rules and regulations in place for the Match Officials to make their rulings about how the wicket played from start to end,so what's the fussed about the Match Referee findings ?

  • Nimesh on March 2, 2017, 4:56 GMT

    Pretty annoying BCCI has been a repeat offender. I can confidently say majority of Indian supporters (including myself) don't care for India winning a match other than because of the players' ability, least of all with the help of a silly manipulated pitch. This is ridiculous!

  •   Nicholas Saunders on March 1, 2017, 23:21 GMT

    Regarding the trent bridge piece. The 2014 was turgid slow flat boring deck but the 2015 wicket has been totally misrepresented in your article. The Nottingham ashes pitch that was an alleged greentop can't of been too bad as England scored nearly 400 on days 1/2? Yeah must of been a raging greentop!

  • badrei5753826 on March 1, 2017, 22:03 GMT

    India Top the List of Poor Pitches Here. So thats Why they are at top in winning every home series .

  • Brijesh on March 1, 2017, 17:25 GMT

    Regardless of opinions here, the fact of the matter is there is no quantifiable measure to justify declaring a pitch 'poor'. Any attempts to classify such intangibles are subject to variable thresholds - many of which are nothing short of 'personal preferences'. With the exception of the Ind vs SL ODI game in Delhi (2009) which actually looked unsafe, the remaining choices are mostly arbitrary - Ind vs Eng (2014) in Trentbridge was bad enough but Aus vs NZ in Perth (2015) wasn't? The so called 'indicators' are simply arbitrary. Under such circumstances, you can't take these decisions seriously. What's being lost due to these discussions is how well Aus played and to a lesser extent, how badly Ind played. Smith's unbelievable century, O'Keefe's heroics, Starc's pace like fire, Ashwin's struggles since Mumbai (vs Eng), Rahane vs Nair and Ind's over reliance on Kohli - I'd rather pay more attention to these aspects than most of the pitch rhetoric from Indians and non-Indians alike.

  • Shanti on March 1, 2017, 14:56 GMT

    SCORES OF LUCKY COUNTRY for @MEMORIES to work on

    Score Overs Inngs Opposition Ground Year

    47 18.0 3 South Africa Cape Town 2011

    60 18.3 1 England Nottingham 2015

    130 30.2 2 England Manchester 1981

    93 30.5 4 India Mumbai 2004

    76 31.2 2 West Indies Perth 1984

    103 31.3 2 England Leeds 1977

    118 31.5 1 England Birmingham 1997

    104 32.1 4 England The Oval 1997

    85 32.5 1 South Africa Hobart 2016

    88 33.1 1 Pakistan Leeds 2010

    106 33.2 2 Sri Lanka Galle 2016

    Only 1 of the 11 in India? That is poor! Gas to have more. whatever may be the outcome of Memories' pitch report.

  • pramathesh on March 1, 2017, 14:39 GMT

    @drew12: Chris Broad is querying about Pune test pitch because of scores of 260 all out, 105 all out, 285 all out, 107 all out with the dismissal of 40 wickets & match not even going to day 4. If its not the pitch then can u tell what is the reason behind the innings totals of 1996 Durban test, 2010 Durban test, 2006 Johannesburg test, 1993 Adelaide test and 1994 Sydney test with dismissal of 40x5=200 wickets with 4 of these tests not going to day 5?

  •   Ashiqur Rahman on March 1, 2017, 13:53 GMT

    4 out of the 7 nt bad ;)

  • Drew on March 1, 2017, 13:41 GMT

    @MEMORIESOFTHEPAST You have no evidence they are poor besides scores. You need actual evidence to make a claim like that. Please provide some or rescind your comment.

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