22 January 2012

Aussie pitches

I've watched a fair bit of Australian cricket this English winter as I've been up loads in the early hours. There's no doubt that Australia have some quality seam bowlers coming up the ranks. James Pattinson has a touch of the Stuart Broad's about him (i.e. a good bowler, but unpleasant on the field), Pat Cummins was man-of-the-match on debut before his injury, Ben Hilfenhaus is back to near his best as he was before the last Ashes, Ryan Harris is as good as ever when fit, Siddle has proven he can move the ball as well as just being a good honest trier, and Mitchell Starc is, for my money, the most scatter-gun of them all, but he's proven against India he can bowl viscious wicket taking balls a la Mitchell Johnson (occassionally).

So the bowlers are definitely on the up, but there's also been another contributor to all the seam-bowling success - the wickets. There was something a little substandard about the wickets in Perth for the last Test against India and in Hobart where Australia lost by 7 runs to New Zealand. Strange - normally Australian wickets are up there with the very best in the world - pretty flat, but with enough in them for the quality bowler.

In Perth the match started with largish cracks in the wicket and on day 1 the ball was moving off the seam when it hit the cracks at the angle you'd expect the ball to deviate from a leg-spinner. So it's not surprising that there was a bit of concern at the "pitch party" on the WACA strip just 12 hours before the start of play, primarily from the visiting Indians.

I can't imagine there was any damage done - the wicket was going to be dodgy anyway - but why did anyone think it was ok to have so many people wandering around and sitting on the Perth wicket just before the game, with beer in hand? The groundsman has been quick to defend it, but it seems very strange behaviour to me....but more importantly, the groundsman needs to defend the big cracks that were evident.

Hopefully Cricket Australia is on the case to ensure the wickets in Australia get back to normal, whether there's a pitch party involved or not!

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