If you have even watched cricket only once then you know there is a pitch in the middle of the ground. It’s a patch between two wickets that plays a very important role that deciding the results. If you think that pitch doesn’t play a crucial role then you will be amazed to know that both the batting and bowling aspect of the game is influenced by the type of pitch on the ground. The pitch conditions depend on which country the ground is in. It also determines whether the pitch will be batting or bowling friendly depending on the conditions.
We have seen many debates among experts discussing the differences in pitches in different countries and how it impacts the game. According to the experts, reading the pitch before the game is crucial for the team captain as it helps him/her determine the best eleven to compete in the game. Let us understand in detail what role does a pitch play in a Cricket match?
What’s a Pitch and What Role Does it Play?
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As mentioned it is the main area in a cricket ground on which the game is played. Both the ends of the pitch have sets of three stumps, one for batting and one for bowling. Bowlers bowl from one end of the pitch while the batter plays at the other end. The condition is the ball has to be stuck or we can say fall on the pitch once before reaching the batter.
Here comes the role of the pitch as once the ball falls in the pitch, the ball can move in many different ways while reaching the batter. There are many paths and movements in which the ball moves and it all depends on various factors like a bowler, type of ball, weather, current condition, and the PITCH.
A fast bowler expects a good bounce and swing from every pitch while a spin bowler would be expecting the ball to turn in both directions. At the same time, the batter wants the ball to come better on the bat so they can play shots accordingly.
Basic Nature of the Pitch
There are different kinds of pitches all across the world and we will talk about them in the next part. Let us understand some insights before we move on to the next part.
If the pitch is too hard, the ball would bounce much, and if the pitch is softer then the ball would remain low for the batsman no matter how hard the bowler tries to bounce the ball.
If you have ever listened to a commentator saying “ball comes slower off the pitch” then it means the pitch is holding the ball. The type of pitch also affects the pace at which the ball will reach the batter after being delivered at a particular pace by a bowler.
In slow pitches, spinners spin a web around the batsman as softer tracks offer a better grip to a ball bowled on it. At the same time on ball skids on the hard pitches and there is no or very little turn.
Dry pitches tend to offer very little aid to fast bowlers in terms of movement off the pitch. They have bounce equal to a perfect batsman’s wicket. However, these kinds of pitches are perfect for spinners and slow bowlers as the ball tends to turn more. But with time, dry pitches aids fast bowlers as the ball roughens quickly and supports reverse swing to the fast bowlers. Dry pitches can be found in India and the neighboring subcontinent.
Another top aspect that needs to be considered is the amount of grass on it. It also determines the ball’s movement off the pitch. With more grass which can be seen on pitches from cold countries like England and New Zealand offers more seam movement as the ball will deviate more before reaching the batter after it falls on the pitch by the bowler’s hands.
Different Kinds of Pitches
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Different kinds of pitches include slow, soft, grassy, and bouncy. Countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh(and also UAE) mostly have slow and soft pitches. Such pitches offer grip as the ball comes off slower at the time and makes things easy for the spinners.
On the other hand, pitches in England, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa are completely different as these pitches are quite bouncy and suitable for fast bowlers. These pitches are hard by nature and have this extra grass which helps seamers with better seam movement and getting the wickets of batters. However, the climate also plays an important role and the climate in different countries changes cricketing conditions for players. For instance, the conditions in England are humid and cloudy helping fast bowlers to swing balls in both directions.
Conditions Adds More Impact on Pitches
As mentioned earlier every country has to offer different conditions and it plays a huge impact on the result of games. It is one of the reasons why most of the countries struggle overseas, doesn’t matter whether it’s India or Australia.
Fun Fact – Do you know that India registered their first test series win in Australia in 2019. And India hasn’t won any test series in South Africa while South Africa has won test series in India against India.
Because of these conditions on the pitches, every specific country produces a set of cricketers with specific results. For instance, India has dry pitches which means it is good for batters and spinners. It is one of the reasons India is known for its world-class batters and spinners. However, while Australia, New Zealand, South Africa see good fast bowlers, batsmen playing nicely against pacers and poorly against spinners. It is because these countries have extra green pitches and cold conditions because of which they better seamers.
The impact of pitches on the game can also be understood by the fact that Indian batters play more drives with a vertical bat as the bowls come better on the bat. But Australian batters play more cuts with a horizontal bat as the bowl has extra bounce.
This is everything about pitches and why it plays an important role in cricket. We hope it’s clear to comprehensively learn the pitch before the start of the game as you might have seen the captain spending time on the pitch before the toss to understand it better.
The ability to read a pitch is not an exact science, but there are factors a cricket captain can take into account to give themselves a competitive advantage. It helps the captain to figure out which players to play in the eleven, as he/she needs to select the players whose skills match the pitch report and conditions. We hope you learned something new today. Until next time, Goodbye!