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Life’s A Pitch, Treat Her Well

Demon or dustbowl, a wicket’s nature determines the tone of the match

Life’s A Pitch, Treat Her Well Getty Images (From Outlook 30 July 2012)

Cricket has come a long way since the first Test match was played between those traditional rivals England and Australia in 1877. Though a lot has changed in the interim 135 years, the basics have not. The game is still played with bat and ball; between two sides of 11 players each. Though the ball still weighs the same (5.5 oz), the bat has gone through ‘technical development’. It is amazing to see how the likes of Victor Trumper, Don Bradman and Jack Hobbs amassed so many runs with the equipment available then. It is left to one’s imagination as to how much they would have achieved with the present day bats. And the game is still played on a pitch which is 22 yards in length and creases that are 8’8” in width. Here, I will talk about the nature and variety of pitches and how it’s affected the game in the global circuit from West Indies to New Zealand.

The pitch is key to the outcome of a match, whether a traditional five-day-long Test or an ODI. It is the object of speculation and debate for TV commentators who take pains to explain to the layman the intricacies of the nature of the wicket. In the old days, pitches were uncovered throughout the match. It was subject to the vagaries of weather. Any prediction as to how a particular wicket would behave was wrought with danger since no one could gauge the progressive damage. It is highly commendable that the previous generation of cricketers achieved what they did under such exacting conditions.

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