Nathan Lyon inspecting the pitch of Perth    Getty Images
Nathan Lyon inspecting the pitch of Perth Getty Images

At the end of second day’s play in ongoing first Test between Australia and South Africa at Perth, there were plenty of topics to be discussed among the experts and commentators. The most highlighted topics of the day were Dale Steyn‘s injury and its impact on his career and team, David Warner missing out on scoring another ton, Australia‘s batting collapse after an excellent opening partnership, South Africa‘s comeback in the contest and some breathtaking catches. Surely, these were among the most important topics of discussion but there were very few chats on cracks coming up on the pitch of Perth, which infact should be the most important and hot topic of the discussion.

The reason why this should be the most important topic of discussion is that these cracks often contribute in changing the course of the game in few overs. Irrespective of the swing or spin a bowler tries to do, if the ball falls on these cracks, it takes a huge amount of turn, probably more than two feet, which makes things difficult for both bowling and batting side. Batting is expected to become difficult but the reason behind it becoming difficult for the bowling side is that if the ball takes drastic turn after pitching, it may go anywhere and because of that no perfect field setting can help them. But in the end, it will be a huge nightmare for batsmen.

During the second Test between South Africa and New Zealand at Centurion earlier this year, Ross Taylor faced the consequence of one such crack on the pitch.

While chasing the target of 400 against South Africa in that Test, Steyn rolled his arm with an intent to bowl a good length ball on the line of wicket but eventually, the ball fell on a crack and because of that it kept low and went straight towards Taylor’s pads. Before Taylor could understand what was wrong with that delivery which kept low, he was given out by the umpire. Later, in the replay, it came into notice that it was all because of cracks.

Well, the above one was a normal example of what a crack in a pitch can do and it’s good that the ball kept only low instead of taking some other random direction. During the third Test of Ashes 2013-14 at Perth, one such similar incident happened when the ball turned more than two feet just because of a crack. That was also the last day of the match when it happened in one of the overs bowled by Australian spinner Nathan Lyon. He also bowled at good length, which fell straight on the cracks and moved vastly towards leg-slip.

Yes, it moved to leg-slip and Warner caught it like it came after an edge from the batsman. Warner knew what had happened but to enjoy the moment, he did a false celebration. On the other side, the then Australian Test captain Michael Clarke put both his hands on his head and was shocked to see the consequences of the crack. Not only Clarke, but infact ,Graeme Swann as well, who was the batsman to face that delivery was shocked to see the turn. It did not require any extra-ordinary skill for a bowler, all it needed was just a big crack.

In the ongoing current Test between Australia and South Africa at Perth, similar cracks have begun to show and with every passing day, one can expect the cracks to increase.

If the cracks see a wide increase in the gap on day three, then it will surely have huge impact on the result of the match and will make the contest more exciting. More than that, it will be interesting to see which bowler can understand and make the full use of these cracks.

(Abhishek Kumar is a cricket devotee currently staffing with CricLife and CricketCountry.com. He can be followed at @abhik2593)