Monday, March 26, 2007

Making the pitch

One of the interesting factors in the group phases was the differences in the pitch conditions in the four venues that games have been played at so far. And as you would expect, the games have reflected those conditions.

Basically you can divide the groups into two- in Jamaica, the Sabina Park wicket was green and seamy, and offered plenty to the bowlers early on. The Queens Park Oval in Trinidad did not offer quite so much, but the prevailing weather conditions conspired to give bowlers plenty of assistance.

Whereas at St. Lucia and especially St. Kitts, there was little to assist the bowlers, just a flat pitch and short boundaries.

This was reflected in the results; there were big upsets in Jamaica, where Ireland were able to scrounge a tie against Zimbabwe, and to beat Pakistan. Meanwhile, Bangladesh were able to bowl wonderfully well in Trinidad to knock over a lazy Indian team, which has seen them eliminated from the tournament.

But in the batting friendly conditions of St. Lucia and St. Kitts, there has not been a sniff of an upset. The Test nations went through and the minnows were duly hammered.

The ICC and ground authorities world-wide are deluded into thinking that because crowds want to see lots of boundaries that flat tracks are the way to go. But what spectators really want to see are tight, exciting finishes, and you need helpful bowling tracks for that. Consider Australia vs South Africa the other day. South Africa were in the hunt for half of their innings, but once they lost a couple of wickets, they fell away and were beaten by 83 runs. In ODI terms, 83 runs is a fairly large margain. Had the match been played in fairer conditions, it might have gone right down to the wire.

But in the Super Eight phase, the matches move to Antigua and Guyana, and into brand new grounds. New grounds mean new pitches, which is good news, as new pitches are rarely batsmen friendly. I am hoping that we can still see some upsets in this stage of the tournament, and lots of close results ahead.


Michael said...

One of the interesting things about the last World Cup in South Africa was that there was one venue - Port Elizabeth - which had a pitch on which absolutely anything could happen. The rest of the grounds were not like that, but it certainly made the tournament more fune. Australia almost came a cropper on it a couple of times, but never quite.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Port Elizabeth was the only venue where we came close to losing in 03. And again, it made for better games.

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