In the grand spectacle of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, the pitch at Ahmedabad, which hosted the final between India and Australia, has been given an “average” rating by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
This rating is part of the ICC’s comprehensive assessment of pitches and outfields for all international games, which are categorized as very good, good, average, below average, poor, or unfit.
A Pattern of Average Ratings Across Venues
The Ahmedabad pitch’s average rating is not an isolated case. Throughout the World Cup, eight matches across five Indian venues, including five games featuring the host nation, India, received similar average ratings.
Notably, the same pitch was used for the high-profile India-Pakistan match earlier in the tournament and received the same assessment.
The Contrast: Wankhede Stadium’s “Good” Rating
This pitch was in the limelight due to a last-minute change from a fresh surface to a used track.
Despite initial concerns about its slow nature, the pitch facilitated a high-scoring game with three centuries and a combined total of 724 runs, debunking fears of it being unfavorable for batting.
Rahul Dravid’s Stance on Pitch Ratings
India’s head coach, Rahul Dravid, expressed his disagreement with the “average” ratings given to pitches in Chennai and Ahmedabad during India’s league matches.
Dravid emphasized the need for diversity in surfaces and questioned the criteria for rating pitches as good or average. He argued for a broader appreciation of different skills in the game, beyond just high-scoring encounters.
Dharamsala’s Outfield: A Concern for Players
The outfield at Dharamsala, which hosted five World Cup games, was also rated “average” for four of these matches.
Players raised concerns about the outfield’s patchy grass and sandy base, which posed injury risks.
This rating reflects the challenges players faced in fielding conditions, highlighting the importance of not only the pitch but also the surrounding playing area in international cricket.
The Lone Exception: Dharamsala’s Final Game
Interestingly, the outfield for Dharamsala’s last World Cup game, featuring Australia and New Zealand, received a “very good” rating.
This indicates a possible improvement in conditions or a different assessment for that particular match.
The Broader Implications of Pitch and Outfield Ratings
The ICC’s ratings of pitches and outfields are crucial in maintaining the standards of international cricket.
These assessments impact the perception of venues and can influence future decisions regarding match allocations.
The ratings also reflect the ICC’s commitment to ensuring fair play and balanced conditions for all teams.
The Role of Venues in Cricket’s Narrative
The condition of pitches and outfields plays a significant role in shaping the narrative of cricket matches.
A pitch that offers a fair contest between bat and ball is often lauded, while surfaces that heavily favor one aspect can lead to criticism.
The ratings by the ICC are a formal recognition of this balance and are essential in preserving the integrity of the sport.
Conclusion: A Call for Diverse and Balanced Pitches
The “average” rating of the World Cup final pitch at Ahmedabad, along with similar ratings at other venues, calls for a reflection on the nature of pitches in international cricket.
It highlights the need for diverse surfaces that challenge different skills of the players, ensuring a balanced and exciting game.
The ICC’s role in assessing and rating these surfaces is pivotal in upholding the quality and fairness of the sport, making cricket a dynamic and unpredictable game loved by millions worldwide.