The ultimate balance between bat and ball. That’s what fans of test cricket are usually singing out for.
Well, Hamilton’s Seddon Park can boast to being just that, thanks to an in-depth study into cricket pitches around the world.
ESPNCricinfo statistical columnist Anantha Narayanan has assessed the quality of test surfaces based on several factors, to determine the Pitch Quality Index (PQI).
A low PQI score (such as in the early 40s) indicates a bowler-friendly pitch, whereas a high score (like in the late 60s) indicates a deck where batsmen find run-scoring easier.
Narayanan’s analysis covered all 2351 tests ever played since 1877. To be considered in the study, he deemed a ground had to have held at least 20 tests. Hamilton has hosted 25 since its first in 1991.
Asgiriya Stadium in Kandy, Sri Lanka, (21 tests between 1983 and 2007) came out with the lowest PQI – at 43.6 – while at the other end of the spectrum, St John’s in Antigua, (22 tests between 1981 and 2009) was the best batting paradise, clocking the highest PQI, of 59.0.
Seddon Park’s PQI was rated 48.0, then, more interestingly, when Narayanan calculated how a ground’s PQI changes during a match, the boutique Hamilton venue was the perfect model of consistency, with the adjusted rating coming out at 48.01, which Narayanan labelled “a terrific symmetry”.
And the results of the number-crunching is something Seddon Park turf manager Karl Johnson was proud of.
“For us to be recognised for our playing surface shows the work we do is delivering a world-class pitch for the game’s best players,” he said.
“And for fans of the traditional five-day game, that means games often go the full distance and result in good competitive cricket with bowlers and batsmen given equal opportunity to excel.”
Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, India, (25 tests between 1975 and 2016) had the biggest drop in PQI during a match, going from 51.1 to 34.1, indicating a deteriorating surface which gets much harder to bat on, while just three grounds had an increase in PQI, with the Old Wanderers in Johannesburg, South Africa, (22 tests between and 1896 and 1939) the biggest mover of those, from 44.7 to 50.6.
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