Sportsfreak Talks Roads

December 22, 2021

Straight from the sportsfreak vault.

So the 2nd test has petered out to a draw. A test that promised so much for 3 ½ days was over as India decided to shut up and bat out time.

They could do this due to the fact that the pitch became increasingly easy to bat on. Totally predictable in fact.

No turn. No pace. No carry. Balls going through at exactly the same height; over after over after soporific over.

Vettori was right when he said the test could have gone on for another 5 days. Once the pitch got to the 3rd day it was over as a contest between bat and ball.

There was the diversion of the contest between the Indian batsmen and their complacency. But once that battle was decided after Dravid walked out late on Saturday and put a stop to the bravado nonsense, the match lost its interest.

We have already stated the case for a bit of life in the pitches for these games. Admittedly that might have been one extreme, but is still preferable to the extreme we suffered here.

There is a middle ground though. Lets get nostalgic for a bit. Pitches that have movement on day 1, flatten out for days 2 and 3 while keeping decent pace, and then start doing funny things on the last 2 days. Some balls jumping from a length, others keeping low. Some balls turning sharply, others not.

An even contest between bat and ball, and something really interesting at the end called luck influencing the match. No-one ever said cricket was a sport that was meant to be fair and predictable, or did we just miss that bit?

But now the agri-scientists, the turf surgeons, the dirt meddlers, and the water table mathematicians have got to the sport, and induced predictability. And put a dagger into test cricket in the process.

This practice is not confined to New Zealand. Recent series in Pakistan and the West Indies have been fun for those collecting batting statistics, but pretty dull for everyone else.

And it’s not confined to test cricket in New Zealand at the moment. There are 1st class matches currently underway with scores of 550 and 662/5 declared. And some people try to tell us that is good for the game. How can it be, when the only bowlers who get rewarded are the ones who happen to induce a bit of complacency and a false shot? You never see pitches like that at the MCG or SCG.

As if the game isn’t becoming slanted unfairly in batsmen’s favour as it is. Increased armoury, anti-bouncer rules and fancy space-age power-bats have meant that batting records have been falling all over the world in recent years.

And now this. The limited over factor is in place here; the widely accepted doctrine that a high-scoring ODI is a good ODI has set the mindset of the groundsmen in favour of producing these roads.

The theory for ODIs is flawed anyway; for traditional cricket it’s a disaster.

It is always good sport to throw some blame at TV’s control of the game. You do wonder if they put a bit of pressure in ensuring a 5 day test. But they’ll need to be careful of killing the golden goose.

Jeremy Coney is blaming the BCCI for insisting on pitches that will not embarrass rich men. You never tire of blaming the BCCI for anything, but this practice is too widespread for that.

No-one wins out of this. Bring back the unpredictability, kick back at the scientists and the chemists.

And bring back the fun.

Finally, the euphemism of The pitch was too good is inaccurate, and clearly dreamed up by a batsman. Any commentator who uses it is merely exposing themselves as biased.