Cricket Pitches: Understanding the Types and Characteristics of the Surface

Cricket is a sport of innumerable intricacies. The shine on a leather ball, a 10 gram extra weight on your bat can all change the dynamic of a match. Even some extra blades of grass on the surface that your [play upon can have an impact on the game. Cricket pitches are one of the most important elements of the game and can impact the game in favour of the toss winner more often than not. If you’re someone who plays tennis or box cricket, the playing surface might not have a huge impact on the game but in professional matches they do a lot. So let's understand the types and impacts pitch can have on a game and how you can read them as a player and use the conditions to your advantage to the maximum. 

The Top view of the Dimensions of a Cricket Pitch

Cricket Pitch Size and Measurement: Length in Feet and Meters, Wicket Length, Boundary Size:

Cricket Pitch Size and Length in Meters:

  • The pitch is at the centre of the ground made with layers of soil and is 22 yards long and 10 feet wide. 
  • The dimensions of a cricket pitch in metres is about 20.12 metres length and 3.05 metres wide.
  • One way to measure the length is to walk up from one end to the other for 22 normal length stride, and that will be an ideal length of the playing surface. 

Cricket Pitch Size and Length in Feet:

  • The dimensions of the cricket pitch in feet is 66 feet in length and 10 feet wide. 
  • At the two ends are the batting and bowling creases. Both sides are marked with wide lines. Stumps are at each of these ends. All these rules are set by the ICC which is the governing body of the sport. 

Cricket Wicket and Crease Length:

  • The length of the cricket crease is about 1.22 meters away from the stumps on both, the bowler's and the batsman's end. 
  • The height of stumps used in the professional matches is 71 centimetres or 28 inches high above the ground and the width of all three combined with the spaces between should not be more than 9 inches

Cricket Boundary Length:

  • The boundary length of cricket grounds depends on where you play. The Melbourne Cricket Ground has the biggest boundaries in the sport, around 75-80 meters average distance. You can see shorter boundaries at the Chinnaswamy in Bangalore, the home ground of RCB in the IPL. The average distance of the boundaries in about 55-62 meters, which is traditionally short. 

But if you are a player who plays mainly with a tennis ball on turfs or on the ground, then the dimensions may be different.

  • The tennis ball cricket pitch is usually slightly shorter than the professional matches, about 17-20 meters. This makes the game even exciting and allows for a quicker game.
  • Tennis ball cricket ground size depends mainly on where you are playing. Some people can have huge boundaries while some may have shorter ones. But boundaries that are about 60-70 meters are usually the sweet spot. 
  • For box cricket on turfs, for underarm matches, the pitch size can be around 10 meters, while for overarm matches, it need to be at least 15 meters long. 

How is a Cricket pitch made?

Both professional and tennis tournaments require good playing surfaces to play an interesting game. Making a cricket pitch is a complicated process and requires a lot of patience. The ground grass and the soil with stones, pebbles and other debris are removed to create a clear area for the surface. The soil is then levelled and compacted to make a smooth and flat surface. Different types of soil are layered on top of this compacted surface. The first or the lower layer is mainly soft lay mixtures to provide stability to the bowling strip. The top layers are mostly fine, well graded soil that form the top surface of the soil providing a playing surface for both batsmen and bowlers.

The pitch curators rolling a cricket pitch

Credit: CricTracker

A pitch needs to be maintained very well to keep its consistency alive. To maintain a level and smooth surface, regular watering, mowing, and rolling are required. Large rollers are used to roll these to flatten out the surface. In order to avoid soil compaction and to let air and water to reach the grass roots, it may also need to be scarified or aerated.

The types of pitches:

There can be 6 types of playing surfaces based upon the amount of moisture, cracks, dust and understanding these signs can help you analyse it better and formulate strong strategies to win the game.

Green Cricket Pitch:

A pitch curator checks the grass on a green cricket pitch

Credit: Cricket Australia

These surfaces, as the name suggests, are green due to the presence of grass. The grass provides bowlers with an advantage due to the grass covering on top. There’s a higher moisture content which again is an advantage to the bowlers. They are mainly prepared for test matches as the grass won't wear away that quickly. Most stadiums in England have green pitches, like in the Lord’s and the Old Trafford in Manchester. In India, the Wankhede Stadium, The Green Park and the Eden Gardens have such a surface. The Melbourne Cricket Ground too has a green surface. 

Flat track pitches:

A flat track cricket pitch at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground

Flat tracks are lightly rolled surfaces that have little to no grass on them and are perfect for batting. There are minimal cracks on them and therefore causes less problems to the batsmen. The batter can go out of their way and try all kinds of shots to score runs and entertain the crowd without any fear. But for the bowlers, it gets very difficult to get wickets on such a track. But with the ZAP Cricket balls in hand, you can hit the accurate line and length and trouble the batsman on any pitch. The I.S Bindra Stadium in Mohali and the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack are famous for such a track, and there have been some huge runs scored at these grounds. 

Dry Cricket Pitch:

Steve Smith assesses the dry cricket pitch at Nagpur

Credit: Cricket Australia

Hard or dry pitches are devoid of moisture. Fast bowlers' lives are made easier by how easily these surfaces shatter. Even though the dry surface is favourable for bowlers, seasoned batsmen can navigate the field and score runs. When the ball is bowled, it doesn't move on such a surface, unless it bounces off one of the cracks. Therefore, shotmaking and bowling both benefit from these tracks. The Nagpur Stadium in India is famous for its dry surface. 

Wet Pitch:

A picture of a wet cricket pitch

Credit: The Courier Mail

A wet pitch has a lot of moisture on the surface. Due to the increased moisture level, the surface will be more cohesive or sticky. Because the ball can't bounce around freely, the bat makes contact more slowly. In some cases the ball might also skid and bounce unpredictably which makes it excellent for bowling. Remember when playing in the rain the ball would bounce and skid quickly off of the surface and the batsmen had no time to respond, or deliberately wet the balls so that this happens?

The same happens when playing on a track with high moisture content. A wet pitch favours swingers more than the spinners. Zap offers bats that are made with perfection to be played at all surfaces. Be it tennis or professional cricket, ZAP’s cricket bats will bring the best out of you under any situation. 

Dusty Pitch:

The Australian Team celebrates a wicket against India in a Test Match on a dusty pitch

Credit: Hindustan Times

The dusty pitch is another excellent bowling surface. The surface is soft and has a substantial layer of dust on them and are minimally rolled. The bowlers benefit from these unrolled surfaces because they can spin the ball more effectively. Use ZAP Leather Balls to maximise this advantage and spin the balls just like Shane Warne did.

Dead Pitch:

A Spidercam view of a batsman bating on a dead pitch

Credit: Bleacher Report

Such tracks are designed for a game of restricted overs and are not appropriate for test matches. Grass and moisture are absent from these kinds of tracks. The batters set records for run scoring, while it gets more difficult to get wickets.

Hybrid Cricket Pitches:

A closeup picture of a hybrid cricket pitch

Credit: Pitchcare

Hybrid cricket pitches are a new innovation that offer an extra level of balance and retain the same level performance for a longer duration. They are made by blending both synthetic fibers and natural grass. Such tracks are fine-turf cricket pitches with plastic fibers stitched into them, offering greater wear resistance and improved drainage. They retain natural grass and maintain consistent pace and bounce.

Pitch Conditions around the world:

The home teams always have an advantage over the visitors when it comes to playing conditions. The tracks in different parts of the world are different, and every team exploits this difference to their own advantage.

 You can see how difficult facing those English pacers in England is.

 A lot of factors like the soil density, moisture level, precipitation levels, all affect how a surface is in various parts of the world. Here’s how tracks in different parts of the world are. 

In hot and dry countries such as in the Indian subcontinent, like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, tracks are slower, drier with less bounce making it very good for spinners and causing batsmen a lot of trouble. For example, Eden Gardens’ pitch is a proper turning track and is a spinners haven. At Wankhede, it is spin friendly during the day in test matches, but due to moisture and dew at night in T20s and ODIs, it becomes a nightmare for slow bowlers. 

Pitches in England and Australia, like at the Lord’s, Gabba, MCG, Sydney Cricket Ground and the Perth Optus Stadium, with moderate climatic conditions, provide a good amount of bounce and pace to both batsmen and bowlers. This bounce can be very well utilized by swing bowlers with newer balls, but once the shine is gone, it is all for the game played by the batsmen (iykyk). 

In places with cool and damp climates like South Africa and New Zealand, pitches are made with soft, damp soil, which offers high bounce and pace to the bowlers. These are fast tracks and are very helpful for fast bowlers who can make the ball bounce unpredictably with their pace. These surfaces can be good for the batsmen too because of the bounce they offer. You should use bats with a higher sweetspot to come over the top of this bounce and play fluent strokes. 

Impact of pitches:

The type of surface can have a huge impact on the toss and the pace at which a game is played. Slow surfaces typically favor spinners and facilitate run scoring for batters. Medium pitches provide bounce and pace and can be a good surface to play an exciting match for both batsman and bowlers. Fast bowlers typically benefit from fast surfaces, which make it harder for batters to score runs. A track can impact the toss decision in many ways. On some tracks, that are presumably better to bat upon, batting first can give you an advantage, while batting second on surfaces that are likely to get drier is more beneficial. Reading and analyzing the surface is an important job of the captain and the coach. It can help in building strategies that help your team win the match. 

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