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Edward Craig: Allen Stanford has messed up his pitch

October 28th, 2008 by Edward Craig in Stanford Twenty20 and tagged , , ,

Of all the things that could have made this Stanford Series look silly, it shouldn’t have been one of the most controllable: he’s really messed up the wicket. Actually, Stanford’s personal circus shows the real problem facing cricket; not a proliferation of Twenty20 or gluttonous volumes of cash during a global recession – but slow pitches.

This unglamorous, mundane, tricky to resolve factor is what will endanger cricket more than any perfectly moustachioed banking baron with an English WAG bouncing around on his knee.

Believe it or not, people like to see things happen. Lots of sixes, lots of wickets, lots of action. Some scores in the Stanford Series so far: 121 for 4; 109 for 4; 122 for 5. What!? This is the all-out, aggressive, exciting, bring-new-people-into-the-game format that should be wowing the entire US. Instead, nothing’s happened. Nothing to see here, keep calm – America – and carry on.

And it is all because of the pitch. Bowlers can’t get any pace and bounce out of it, so you can’t get any wickets but then it is tricky to score runs, especially with that outfield.

There is only one thing needed to make any match entertaining – pace in the wicket. This gives quick bowlers something to work with, batsman a chance to play shots without fear, spinners bounce and, if it turns, quick turn. Things happen. This is true for any format.

Slow pitches in Tests may make for an exciting final session on the fifth day but it’s agony getting there. Look at Australia and India’s recent battles – great Tests at Sydney, Perth and Mohali (pace in the pitch) – rubbish matches at Adelaide and Bangalore (slow turds).

In golf, there is a measure for how quick greens are running – it is called a Stimp metre. The Stimp metre should be introduced to cricket and any groundsman who produces a pitch that falls below 10 on the Stimp (quick) should be fined and shot.

Pitches rely on the weather, I know, but if Old Trafford can consistently be the quickest and best wicket in England, while consistently being the wettest and coldest place in England, then Antigua, Bangalore, Adelaide, Lord’s, Hamilton could and should produce more pace.

Then Allen Stanford’s great investment may actually pay off.

Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer

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