Ian Botham is the King of Sky Sports pitch reports. But you can't have him at your game. How are you going to fathom out the way it will play without Beefys help? Reading a cricket pitch is a fine art and even the best readers are surprised when some pitches behave totally differently from expected. This is especially true at club level where the quality of pitches can vary widely depending on the skills and motivation of the groundsman. However, there are certain things to look for to give you a clue. Once you get out to the pitch here is what you should be asking yourself:
- How wet is the pitch? The wetter the pitch, the slower it will play. Also, if it is drying out the ball will turn considerably, but will get easier the drier it gets.
- How much grass is on the pitch? A green top pitch with a lot of grass will have a lot of seam movement, especially if the pitch is hard. It will be hard for spinners to turn the ball. Pitches with no grass tend to help spinners, especially if dry and dusty (although they tend to be easier to bat on first before they have deteriorated).
- How hard is the pitch? Hard pitches will have a higher bounce and the ball will come onto the bat a lot more quickly. Pitches like this are hard to prepare in the UK so they will rarely be seen. They tend to give an equal chance to bowlers and batsmen. It will feel firm to the touch
- When is the pitch most likely to help my bowlers? Conditions change throughout a day. Green pitches tend to get easier to bat on. Wickets can get more dry or wet (if it rains). They can start to break up if they are soft (which will help the bowlers). If it is going to get easier to bat, bowl first. If it is going to get harder, bat first.
- What roller will be needed between innings? If you have the option of a roller between innings you should usually take as heavy a roller as possible (the laws state you are allowed 7 minutes if you are batting 2nd). The exceptions are dusty wickets that can break up under rolling.
What are your experiences with cricket pitch reading? Get in touch to let me know.
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