The external review into Cricket Australia’s culture has confirmed that groundstaff have been instructed to produce ‘flat’ pitches to ensure Test matches go for five days.
Cricket fans have bemoaned the growing imbalance between bat and ball in Test cricket in recent times, with Australian grounds appearing to lose their unique qualities.
It has long been suggested that flat pitches have intentionally been prepared to give batters the upper hand.
The external review into the culture of Cricket Australia commissioned in the wake of the ball-tampering saga was released on Monday and backed up those suspicions.
“Indeed, we have received direct and specific evidence of at least one senior CA official issuing just such a directive,” the Ethics Centre report says.
It’s believed that portion was among the two per cent of the report that was redacted, though cricket.com.au published the quotes in their summary of the findings.
As one of the 42 recommendations made to CA following the review, it was advised that pitches be prepared in a manner that:
“Allows batting and bowling sides a fair opportunity to compete effectively, and maintains regional variety and diversity of playing surfaces.”
In response to that, CA claimed that policy already existed.
“This recommendation is in place. CA will continue to implement its policies in relation to pitches and playing surfaces,” Cricket Australia responded.
Bowlers who’ve been forced to toil on lifeless pitches for little reward might beg to differ.
Back in 2015, after a home series against India characterised by low and slow pitches and plenty of runs, Australian quick Ryan Harris commented on the wickets.
“I don’t know for sure if it was a Cricket Australia directive and if they wanted the games to go five days,” Harris said.
“Last year when England were here there were games that finished in three or four days and obviously the hierarchy, or whoever it is, may not have been happy but at the end of the day I think we just played really good cricket last year.
“I don’t know at all who makes that decision, if decisions are made, if the curators are given those ‘reccies’.”
Cricket Australia denied giving any direction to groundstaff at the time and even said they encouraged diversity among different grounds around the country.
“The only direction we give curators around the country is to try and produce pitches that provide an even contest between bat and ball,” a spokesman said.
“At the same time, curators are encouraged to maintain the unique characteristics of the pitch itself.”
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