Pune pitch gets ‘poor’ rating from ICC match referee

The pitch used for the first Test between India and Australia in Pune has been given a “poor” rating by the ICC match referee Chris Broad.

Australia won the Test match, which ended in the post-tea session of day three, by 333 runs, bowling India out for 105 and 107. India’s match total of 212 runs was their lowest in a home Test in which they had lost all 20 wickets. Spinners accounted for 31 of the 40 wickets that fell during the Test.

According to the ICC’s pitch and outfield monitoring process, a pitch is said to be poor if any of the following apply:

  • The pitch offers excessive seam movement at any stage of the match
  • The pitch displays excessive unevenness of bounce for any bowler at any stage of the match
  • The pitch offers excessive assistance to spin bowlers, especially early in the match
  • The pitch displays little or no seam movement or turn at any stage in the match together with no significant bounce or carry, thereby depriving the bowlers of a fair contest between bat and ball

In accordance with Clause 3 of the ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process, Broad submitted his report to the ICC, expressing concern over the quality of the pitch. The ICC has forwarded the match referee’s report to the BCCI, which now has 14 days to respond.

Geoff Allardice, the ICC’s General Manager – Cricket, and Ranjan Madugalle, ICC’s chief referee, will review the BCCI’s response and study footage from the match, before ruling on whether or not the pitch was substandard.

The penalty for a pitch that is ruled substandard for the first time – as would be the case for Pune, which was hosting its first ever Test match – is “[a] warning and / or a fine not exceeding USD 15,000 given together with a directive for appropriate corrective action”, according to Clause 4 of the ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process.

Indian pitches have been under the ICC scanner for a while. In December 2015, the Nagpur pitch was rated poor by the ICC match referee Jeff Crowe after India had defeated South Africa inside three days.

Earlier this month, the ICC chief executives committee, backed by the ICC board, decided to punish severely venues that presented substandard pitches. A system of imposing demerit points against each venue was proposed by the Chief Executives Committee. The proposal will be ratified at the ICC annual conference in June and subsequently, the news rules will take effect.

“It was agreed that a system of demerit points be introduced, similar to the new Code of Conduct system. Demerit points will remain active for a rolling five-year period. When a venue accumulates 5 demerit points, its ICC accreditation will be suspended for a period of 12 months. Should a venue reach 10 points, its accreditation will be suspended for 24 months,” an ICC release said.

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