ICC declares Rawalpindi pitch ‘below average’, penalises with demerit point

Image showing an Ahmadabad pitch — Reuters/File
  • International Cricket Council (ICC) declares the Pindi Cricket Stadium “below average” and penalises it with one demerit point.
  • Referee for the Test match claims that the pitch did not favour the batters and bowlers equally.
  • Pakistani coach said he is hoping for a better wicket in Karachi that favours the two equally.

KARACHI: International Cricket Council (ICC) declared the Pindi Cricket Stadium “below average” for the first Test match between Pakistan and Australia and penalised it with one demerit point.

The Australian cricket team and several Pakistani cricketers criticised the wicket too.

The ICC said that Ranjan Madugalle, the ICC match referee for the Test series between Pakistan and Australia, rated the pitch at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi as “below average.”

Madugalle’s report was sent to the Pakistan Cricket Board as well.

His report highlighted that the pitch did not favour the batters and bowlers equally, since it “favoured the former more than the latter.”

“The character of the pitch hardly changed over five days, except that the bounce slightly lowered,” wrote Madugalle.

“In my view, this does not represent an even contest between bat and ball. Therefore, in line with the ICC guidelines, I rate this pitch below average,” he declared.

The demerit points remain active for a rolling five-year period. When a venue accumulates five demerit points (or crosses that threshold), it is suspended from hosting international cricket matches for 12 months. If it reaches 10 demerit points, the venue is suspended from hosting international cricket matches for 24 months.

Less than an hour before the ICC’s announcement, Mohammad Yousuf, the Pakistan team’s batting coach, defended the wicket in Rawalpindi.

“Everyone prepares the wicket according to their strength and condition; we do not get what we want when we go to Australia for our matches,” he told the media.

“The wicket looked weak because a heavy roll was used on it and it did not get enough sunshine,” the former batter said.

Only 14 wickets fell during the five-day series, granting the batsmen a truck of good luck. 

The Pakistani coach praised his batsmen for their performance in the series. “They played according to the plan. I was very happy to see them scoring runs,” he said.

“Abdullah was playing his third Test match and Imam made a good comeback. It was good to see them play confidently,” he added.

Yousuf was, however, hoping for a better wicket in Karachi that favours the bowlers equally. 

What did PCB reply to ICC’s decision to demerit Rawalpindi’s pitch?

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) claimed that while no Pakistani venue has received a demerit point before, it accepts International Cricket Council (ICC)’s decision and will ensure the quality of pitches in upcoming matches.

The PCB released its statement after ICC announced that the Rawalpindi pitch for the first Test series between Pakistan and Australia was “below average” and penalized it with a demerit point.

“We note and accept the ICC’s decision. This is the first time any Pakistan venue has received a demerit point,” said the PCB.

It announced that “a massive project” has already been implemented to improve pitches all over Pakistan to make the match equally favourable for ballers and batters.

“The PCB remains confident and optimistic that we will not only see good contests in Karachi and Lahore Tests but in all future domestic international matches as well,” a PCB spokesman said.

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