Ashes 2021-22: “Pitch performance”- Is it really a problem?

Are pitches really a cause of poor cricket game or just a go-to excuse for teams not able to perform well

Australia dominated the first three clashes of Ashes and ended 2021 with fruitful results, to which England pulled out a draw on the last day of the fourth test match of the series, remaining unbeaten this year as of now. England players fortunately managed to have a good sleep last night, surviving the last wicket hold of Anderson partnering with Broad. But as commented by players, is the pitch causing poor performance to the game.

Pitches tend to play neutral for both the respective teams in any particular game, notwithstanding the excuses of wins or losses. Reports comment on complaints about the pitch, which for England has consistently been a issue of excuse to slide away the loss. County pitches are once again in limelight of excuses. The complaints look similar to the comments on India’s pitches, last winter, where India won by a huge margin. England slipped away another win away from home, diving in the critical comments on the pitch and not the performance of the team. The Ashes pitches are being said to benefitting the medium pacers and not quick seam pacers. Major complaint of all being that the county pitches are not being helpful for a good test cricket show. Surfaces regularly get checked and rated by ECB appointed match referee on the basis of – “uneven bounce, seam variables, turns”. Pitches get marked out of 6, with 6 being “very good” and 1 being “very poor or unfit”. In 2021, keeping in mind only the championship matches ( 125 games), average rating of the pitch came out to be 5.02/6.00 with almost 80% of pitches being ranked either “good” or “very good” by the very own “ECB” officials. The pitch performance seem to grow trendily with average ranking of 2017-2021 being 4.99 and 2007 – 2020 being 4.84, which in surprise was the period when England was dominating the top rank holding of world ranking. According to match officials pitches seem to get even better.

Stepping onto the other side of the similar theory of “fit pitch” and “rated surfaces”, groundsman suggested the reason of why the pitches tend to outperform and have created a recent issue for the players, which was factually correct. The reason being that earlier the same pitch which used to survive 19-20 games , is now being played at least 32 matches during the same time, which not only gives the groundsman less time to prepare but also fudging in more damps and cracks on the surfaces. For any pitch, weather plays a vital role and the natural cause sometimes influences the pitch to either turn more or bounce more.

To conclude that engaged people work hard to give in a good pitch under tough circumstances, therefore pitch should be a major talk among the team but not a priority of conversation to win or lose.

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