Where are your ‘bad pitch’ thresholds?

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Cricket pitch (CC licensed by peter lowe via Flickr)

What is a bad pitch? We can get some sort of an idea by working out what we deem to be a good pitch – but there’s more to it than that.

Most people will say a pitch is bad when wickets fall too easily. When a pitch gives too much assistance to bowlers and batting becomes a bit of a lottery, that’s a bad pitch.

But where’s your threshold? And is it the same for pitches that aid quick bowlers and those that aid spinners?

Now the obvious point to make at this juncture is that turning pitches will often (but not always) turn more as a game wears on, whereas a seaming pitch is probably more likely to flatten out – so they are different.

But set that aside, because the point we’re making is really just that we impose different standards and that these standards will vary from person to person. There is no universally agreed definition of a bad pitch that will be applied by everyone in exactly the same way.

As we implied earlier in the week, we believe much of the angry hoo-ha about turning pitches is down to people’s perceptions of normality. In England, seam bowling is commonplace and so becomes a major aspect of many county cricket fans’ internal templates for how things should be.

This is what explains the bizarre level of anger that is sometimes directed towards counties who prepare turning pitches. It is a bunch of people with a skewed template of normality struggling to accommodate reality. These people’s response is generally a heartfelt desire to impose their idiosyncratic standards on the world in the firm belief that everyone else’s take on things is wrong.

So this is another reason why the bad pitch debate can at times become surprisingly heated. It tends to pit insularity, parochialism and lack of self-awareness against a bunch of people who like to define themselves otherwise. It is an unusually fundamental disagreement for something seemingly so trivial.


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  1. Another variable to throw into the mix is the recurring “line”. Regardless of the official state of the pitch that the ECB will pass judgement on, resident Middlesex skipper, Adam Voges, claims that Somerset have crossed “a line”. These “lines” are becoming as ubiquitous as “units”.

  2. The absolute worst pitches are the roads that offer nothing to the bowler. Weirdly, these seem to be called “good pitches”.

    Personally, as long as there isn’t a massive advantage in winning the toss and there is a good chance of a result without declaration bowling/weather intervention, I am OK with any wicket.

  3. My threshold is “did the team I support lose?”
    (currently, all pitches are bad)

    Alternatively; Jamaica 1998.

    Quit whining about spinning wickets and learn to play spin.

  4. For me the test is this:

    “A safe pitch that allows both bowlers and batsmen to bring their skills to bear on the result of the match.”

    A batter’s paradise negates the skill of the bowler. A pitch that is a minefield makes the result over-dependent on luck – chance already has a significant sway over results, but being skittled by one that keeps low or caught out by one that spins egregiously means that luck is negating the skills of the batsmen (and indeed the skills of the bowler, if their figures reflect their fortune more than the quality of their deliveries).

    1. That’s probably fair. But it should also be added that it’s better to err in favour of the bowler since 123 all out plays 140 all out is more entertaining to watch than 580 all out plays 630-3 dec.

      1. But either way, there still remains the question of where precisely one draws the line.

        We’re back on lines again, it seems.

      2. Under my desk there is a prominent line formed at the dividing edge of two rows of carpet tiles. Recently I’ve become increasingly annoyed as my colleague who sits facing me on the opposite desk to mine repeatedly kicks my feet and stores her spare shoes and/or laptop bag a considerable distance over said line. I’ve been thinking of challenging her on this until this morning. Having gone under the desk to rearrange aforementioned paraphernalia (she’s off on Fridays) I have realised that The Line does not coincide with the divide between our desks – in fact it’s considerably over to her side.

        I’ve completely forgotten the point I was trying to make here. Something about Adam Voges and the Taunton Turner I think.

  5. The subject line of t’Badger has just caused me to splutter into my 11am coffee. The secret of good comedy there timing

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