Pitch talk

The SSC pitch prepared for the second test of the on-going series between Sri Lanka and India aroused much controversy for its flatness which resulted in a total of 1478 runs being scored for the loss of 17 wickets. This was 11 runs short of the highest ever aggregate achieved in a Test in Sri Lanka 1489 for 14 wickets in the record breaking match at the R Premadasa Stadium in 1997 which also involved India.
The SSC pitch came in for some criticism from the two captains who were not all that happy when it eventually turned out to be a graveyard for their bowlers.

Four bowlers from each side sported century figures with one of them even getting into a double hundred, while the batsmen enjoyed a record breaking first four days with two batsmen getting double hundreds and three scoring centuries with one missing out by just one run.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said, “On this kind of a wicket, 99.9 per cent of the time you will not get a result. This was a placid track nothing in it for anyone.”
Rival captain Kumar Sangakkara was of the opinion that the crowds would like to see an even contest between bat and ball which was not the case at the SSC with the bat dominant over the ball.

“The wicket at SSC has been always flat. I remember when we played against Pakistan, we had to bat out about five sessions to save the Test Match and at the end we were 424 for four. Still there was some bite on that wicket in the last session, but it was a foregone conclusion by then,” he said.
When it was suggested whether play could have been called off on the final day with both teams having nothing to play for, Sangakkara replied, “I don’t know how the sponsors and the TV networks will look at that. It was not the most interesting final day’s play. Until the ICC changes rule, you have to wait and see.”
Dhoni said that India would love to get an extra days rest but the ICC will have to decide after we had one innings each and on the last day nothing is happening may be to call it off and enjoy some food and drinks.
From the three Test venues Sri Lanka Cricket has allocated for the series, SSC has the smaller percentage of wins 67.64 percent (23 wins, 11 draws) as compared to the other two venues Galle which has 75 percent (12 wins, 4 draws) and the P. Sara Oval - venue of the third and final Test beginning on Tuesday 71.4 percent (10 wins, 4 draws).

Sri Lanka Cricket’s chief curator Anuruddha Polonowita defended the SSC pitch when he said the high scoring was due to the bowling attack of both teams being weak. He said a weak attack against two sides with world class batsmen had no chance to exploit the wicket.
Harbhajan Singh was the most experienced bowler in that Test with 357 wickets from 85 Tests. The next most experienced bowler was Dilhara Fernando with 89 wickets from 34 Tests.

Now the moot question is are Test match pitches being prepared to last for five days so that the sponsors and broadcasters get the maximum mileage. For a pitch where there is seam and spin for instance could result in the Test ending inside five days which would cost the sponsors and broadcasters vital revenue.
The ICC now caught in a catch-22 situation where they are struggling to make the UDRS (Umpires Decision Review System) mandatory for all Test matches will have another problem on their hands with broadcasters allegedly pushing for flatter pitches in their eagerness to maximize revenue.
Will the ICC dare to take on the broadcasters and sponsors whom they are dependent for the survival of the UDRS?