Pitches must be prepared properly in order to protect batsmen

Only 61 balls were bowled in the Test match between West Indies and England at Sabina Park in 1997/98 © Getty Images

Cricket, since its inception, was played on uncovered pitches till the 1960’s. The move to prepare covered pitches was taken to normalise playing conditions and to make it physically safer for batsmen to play.

 

Over the years, various measures have been taken to protect players, especially batsmen from getting hurt by the ball. A few international matches have even been suspended in order to protect batsmen from injuries.

 

The first Test match of England’s 1997/98 tour of West Indies played at Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica was called off due to dangerous playing conditions. Only 61 balls were bowled in that match.

 

The match was called off after several balls lifted dangerously at the English batsmen who were facing Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose from either ends.

 

No play resumed after the first 56 minutes which involved lengthy discussions between the captain and match officials. The then International Cricket Council Chief executive Dave Richardson said, “It is possible for ICC to rule that the match should be scrubbed out.”

 

A lot of effort goes into the preparation of pitches. However, a pitch prepared in a hurry can lead to dangerous playing conditions.

 

A similar incident like the one between West Indies and England took place at the Ferozshah Kotla stadium in New Delhi in the fifth One Day International match between India and Sri Lanka.

 

The match was suspended after 23.3 overs in which Sri Lanka lost five wickets scoring only 89 runs. Even the Kotla pitch was termed “dangerous” as the ball rose sharply.

 

ICC officials inspected the pitch and handed a one-year ban to the stadium from hosting international matches.