Pitches frequently take center stage in a match, influencing its direction. Despite careful preparation, cricket pitches, though successful most times, sometimes attract attention for undesirable reasons.
Following a couple of pitch controversies towards the end of the 2023 ODI World Cup, cricket faced additional questionable claims. New Zealand captain Tim Southee strongly criticized the Dhaka pitch used in the second Test against Bangladesh.
The match concluded in four days, with nearly five sessions lost to rain. A total of 635 runs were scored in the four innings, accompanied by 36 wickets falling during the contest.
Adding to the troubles, the fourth game in the 2023-24 Big Bash League (BBL) season involving the Melbourne Renegades and the Perth Scorchers had to be called off due to unfavorable pitch conditions.
Three instances where cricket matches gained attention due to unsafe pitches:
#3 BBL 2023-24 clash between Melbourne Renegades and Perth Scorchers at Simonds Stadium, Geelong
The Renegades vs. Scorchers match faced issues due to a problematic Geelong pitch. Despite a regular start, the pitch exhibited unsafe inconsistency after the powerplay, leading to a halt at 30-2 after 6.5 overs. The match was eventually abandoned following discussions between umpires and officials.
Cricket Australia (CA) expressed dissatisfaction with the events and officially declared a review into the incident. Each team received one point following the match abandonment, and there’s a possibility of rescheduling later in the campaign.
#2 5th ODI between India and Sri Lanka in 2009 at Arun Jaitley Stadium, Delhi
India and Sri Lanka faced off in a five-match ODI series in 2009. Heading into the final match, considered a dead rubber, India held a 3-1 lead. Winning the toss, India chose to field first and promptly made an impact as Zaheer Khan dismissed Upul Tharanga with the very first ball, securing an early breakthrough.
The pitch wasn’t suitable for a complete international match, evident in the scorecard. Sri Lanka found themselves at 83-5 in the 24th over, leading to the decision to abandon the match.
The pitch displayed unpredictable bounce, with deliveries hitting unconventional areas. Captains, umpires, match officials, and the Delhi and District Cricket Association agreed to abandon the game. The pitch criticism led the BCCI to dissolve the ground and pitches committee.
#1 1st Test between England and West Indies in 1998 at Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica
Sabina Park in Jamaica is infamous for its extreme conditions, and although it has become less challenging in recent years, it has left enduring memories.
The first Test between England and West Indies in 1998 was scheduled at this venue. However, only 10.1 overs were played before the entire match was abandoned.
England, opting to bat, struggled on the perilous pitch against Walsh and Ambrose, reaching 17-3. The match was abandoned, leading to an extra Test in Port of Spain. West Indies won the series 3-1.