Have you ever watched commentators as they inspect a pitch before a day’s cricket? Often, they will make a whole feature of this on televised games. Well, now you don’t have to pretend you know what they’re talking about. We’ve created a guide to the different types of cricket pitches and how you can work out what you’re dealing with. You don’t have to worry about what is meant by a “flat pitch” or a “spinning wicket” anymore.
If you are playing cricket, there are obviously more benefits to being able to read cricket pitches. As a batter and as a bowler, you are able to predict how the pitch is going to behave and change your technique to suit.
A lot of people will know that in test cricket, as opposed to limited over matches, the pitch deteriorates a lot more. This isn’t something you and your Village Cricket Bat are going to have to deal with unless you get called up for your country any time soon. Four or five days of use greatly impact a pitch, and the same applies to pitches getting frequent use in the summer.
Let’s dive into the types of cricket pitch and how you can read them.
A green pitch is one of the easiest to identify for beginners. The clue is in the name. Often, when a pitch is green the audience will be drooling with anticipation.
A green pitch has more grass on it, which can deteriorate over the course of a test match. Initially, this is good for the fast bowlers, and over time it can become better for the spinners.
This kind of pitch has something in it for the bowlers, but often aren’t too bad to bat on either, especially as the ball loses its shine. It can be a fair contest between batsman and bowler. The video below discusses the “green pitch” among some other types.
A Flat Pitch
If you’ve got a flat pitch and the batters know what they’re doing, prepare for some big scores. Flat pitches are a little bit softer and tend not to have grass to suit quick bowlers or wear to suit spin bowlers.
Simply put, a flat or “flat track pitch” can be a batter’s dream. The bounce is predictable, and armed with the Village Cricket Bat (perfect for the English bounce in particular) you could be in line to rack up some big scores.
You can see how geography and weather conditions play such a big part in the condition of a pitch. A dry pitch is more likely in a country without much rain.
Over time, this sort of pitch is likely to crack, this may help the bowlers somewhat, and some spinners might start to get something out of the pitch as it opens up. In general, batters are still in the game on a dry pitch.
Depending on where you play, and the time of the year, you won’t see too many dry pitches about. In the UK, it’s often about ensuring the pitch is dry enough to even play on.
If you do get a dry pitch, it is not too much of a worry for batters unless the ball starts deviating and gripping in the rough areas or hitting cracks. Spin bowlers may have these areas to aim at.
Wet Pitch (Sticky Wicket)
Have you ever heard the expression “sticky wicket”? This is one of the many terms that has entered into the vernacular of the English language.
Wet pitches often come from covers failing. In some village cricket pitches you won’t even have covers. Many a Saturday match has been cancelled due to the pitch being too wet, making the perfect excuse for an afternoon of hanging out with your friends and teammates.
If you do play on a wet pitch then you might experience some tricky conditions as a batter. Bowlers, particularly spin or seam bowlers, will find that the bounce is really unpredictable, helping you to find edges, force the batter into bad choices or even clatter into the stumps.
If the pitch is “sticky” it is unpredictable, which is almost always an advantage to the bowlers. We could be looking at less than 100 runs all out.
A “sticky” pitch may also help spinners, who might be able to turn the ball, especially if the wicket is like this because of the fact that it is humid rather than the fact it has recently rained.
Dry and Dusty Pitch
If you live in the UK, you might never have seen a dry and dusty pitch in the flesh! Even in the summer the temperatures might not get high enough to cause this kind of dryness.
You’ve probably seen test matches in the subcontinent where the dust flies up as the ball makes contact. This may not suit swing bowlers and dry, dusty pitches might not do much for the quicker bowlers, but it is definitely one of the favourites of the spin bowler. Dry, dusty pitches often come along with a certain grip, which means that the ball sits in the pitch and deviates.
Why You Need to Read The Pitch
As you can see from the summaries of each type of pitch, you will be able to get the best results if you are able to read them. This means getting a good overview of what the pitch looks and feels like.
If you’re going to be playing on the pitch, don’t be surprised to see the captains out there having a good old look at what the wicket seems like.
The best cricketers can get a really strong feel for how it is going to behave, and this definitely gives you the upper hand in the battle against the batter or the bowler you’re facing.
For example, if you know that the pitch is going to have a low and slow bounce then you might be able to plan for this. The Village Cricket Bat has a low middle, which means it is well suited to the low bounce of an English pitch. As a batter, you’re more likely to ‘middle it’ using this bat.
The condition of the cricket pitch can play a part in a lot of the decisions you might make, and that the captain makes.
At a professional level (and even at village level) some of the decisions that are influenced include:
- The team lineup. If a professional team turns up and sees a dusty pitch with some cracks in it, you can bet they will want to play their spinners for the best chance to turn the ball.
- The approach. Are you going to be attacking or defensive? The state of the pitch can play a big part. For example, if you want to take a more defensive approach to try and stay in limited overs matches.
- Which bowlers are used more. On a pitch that is turning but not doing anything for the seam bowlers or fast bowlers, you might be better off letting your part-time spinners have a bowl.
- Whether you choose to bowl or bat first. If you see that the pitch is flat, but you suspect that over time it might start to crack or become dusty, then you will probably choose to bat first and bowl when the pitch has deteriorated. On the other hand, if the pitch is green or even a little bit sticky then you might find that bowling first yields better results.
How to Read a Pitch For The Best Results
There are certain areas that you need to check on the pitch to ensure that you have fully evaluated how it looks and even feels.
Firstly, you should check if there is much green on the pitch. Grass growing on the pitch can definitely be a good sign for the bowlers first up. If you have bowlers that can swing the ball then this kind of surface can be ideal. You might choose to put your opposition in to bat and try to bowl them out cheaply.
A lot of cricket captains can be seen feeling the pitch beforehand. This is not a myth, it’s all about checking the moisture. If there is moisture on the wicket then you will be able to feel it on the surface.
You should also perform a visual inspection, you can see more than just whether there is grass on the pitch, you’ll also be able to see if it is already cracking or if there are dusty, dry patches.
Which Pitches Suit Spin Bowlers?
Dry and dusty pitches are fantastic for spin bowlers. Ask anyone that tries to turn the ball and they will tell you that some pitches just tend to behave differently. For example, there are certain pitches around the world that are known for being turning surfaces, or being quick to deteriorate.
It makes sense that a pitch becoming dry and uneven gives more grip and uncertain bounce, which batters will hate.
Which Pitches Suit Quick Bowlers?
The faster bowlers out there tend to like it when there is a bit of green on the pitch at the start of play. The grass cover can actually help those with pace and even help you to swing the ball or get skid off the surface.
Which Pitches Suit Batters?
A “flat” pitch will suit batters. This makes for a fantastic spectacle in some of the shorter forms of the game. These types of cricket pitches are great for T20, for example. People love seeing lots of runs scored quickly, it adds to the drama.
Can You Change the Condition of a Pitch?
Big cricket clubs, cricketing nations, and county sides have groundspeople who spend a lot of time trying to work on the pitch. Sometimes, they will even create pitches that suit their own batsmen, style, and the weather conditions.
On a village level, you won’t have this kind of control. If you’re playing casually then there isn’t too much you can do, though keeping the pitch dry enough is vital. So, a lot of people will cover the pitch with a tarpaulin in the morning or before the game to try and keep moisture off the wicket area. Also, you may use a leaf blower to divert water or dry out the pitch, but this is hard work, time-consuming, and not exactly as effective as a super-soaker.
Cricket is one of the most interesting sports out there when it comes to evaluating conditions. So many different aspects come into play. A bowler might perform like a prime Jimmy Anderson on some pitches, and totally fail on others. By knowing the different types of cricket pitches and being able to evaluate them, you could give your team the upper hand in your cricket match.