How to read the pitch as well as Botham | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to read the pitch as well as Botham

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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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Forgive me pardeep but I'm not sure what you are getting at. Do you want to know that information or are you telling me something else?

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I think there are three main points of differentiation.

Hard wickets will result in less energy being dissipated leading them to bounce more, be quicker, and turn less; soft wickets will be comparatively slower, lower and more prone to turn.

A little bit of green grass reduces the coefficient of friction and hence makes the pitch quicker and spin a little bit less. A completely bare pitch will be slightly slower, more prone to break up, and spin more. A lot of grass (so it looks like the outfield) will act as a cushion and make the pitch slower (see above).

Finally, the effects of rain. A light shower will initially make the pitch skiddier, quicker, with less turn. After it has sunk in, it might make the pitch slightly softer which will have the opposite effect.

An interesting phenomenon in club cricket is that an underprepared pitch often plays better when its a little damp, because those little inch wide bumps that cause the ball to rear up and shoot sideways soften in the wet and the ball just squashes them down and bounces normally.

The weirdest pitch I have ever played on wasn't any one of these types. I don't know if the groundsman did a poor job or if the weather was terrible but it was a horrendous pitch! You couldn't see the ball when you were fielding because the pitch amplified the sunlight and reflected it back at us in all directions like a mirror. I have never experienced something like this in my life and I hope I don't have to ever again! Luckily we played a day-night game so it was only temporary. When we inspected the pitch it look really odd, with more cracks on it than water in the ocean. I suspected it would turn viciously and have good bounce because it was as hard as clay with a weird yellow sheen. I was batting when I suddenly realised that this was a nightmare pitch. The fast bowlers were cutting the ball the whole length of the pitch and were bouncing it above head height, and occasionaly the ball would bounce 4-5 times before reaching the batsman or even roll! When a spinner was bowling to me he got no turn at all (well he was a roller with no revs so I don't blame him) but the fast bowlers were getting miles of deviation. The ball would land in one spot and bounce abnormally then the next ball would bounce normal, and then it would bounce weirdly again! I was bowling and getting a bit of turn or just about nothing and every now and again a ball would turn square! One leg break that I spun perpendicular to the pitch bounced into the batsmans gloves with no turn, and the next ball I bowled the top spinner but it didn't bounce more than 20 centimeters off the ground. Some balls reared up and others skidded or just bounced entirely sideways. The area where most runs were scored was directly behind the keeper, and not because it was a scoop shot. I defy any keeper who claims to be able to catch a ball when it bounces like that. What a poor pitch!!!!!! The groundsman should be fined.

I am captaining my school side for the first time tomorrow. I need help on what to do first. I am the only spinner and out pitch turns considerably. 30 over under 12 game. We have 2 seam bowlers and 2 swing bowlers one in swing and one out swing. Our pitch turns for the spinner and there is not much green on it it seems to be normal with even bounce not too hard not too soft. We are facing a school which on paper is a better team than us. As captain i could use ur advice on wat to do first with all this in mind. Thnx!!!

my parents are against of me i want to become a cricketer but they are saying you just care on your study iam 13 years old what i have to do

If pitch is dusty and hard but not green...what is better for bat or bowl??