For the second time this year, the Rawalpindi pitch has earned a “below average” rating – an unwanted label earned after providing very little assistance to bowlers in the first Test of the ongoing Pakistan-England series.
England had racked up a record 506 runs on day one. Although the match ended in a decisive result, there was little joy for the bowlers particularly in the first two innings, which produced seven centuries and totals of 657 and 579. England scored at well above a run a ball in both their innings.
ICC match referee Andy Pycroft handed out a “below average” rating and a demerit point on Tuesday. “It was a very flat pitch which gave almost no assistance to any type of bowler,” Pycroft said. “That was the main reason why batters scored very fast and both sides posted huge totals.
“The pitch hardly deteriorated during the course of the match. Since there was very little in it for the bowlers, I found the pitch to be ‘below average’ as per the ICC guidelines.”
On day two of the match, PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja had termed the pitch “embarrassing”, and suggested that the contest it produced was “not a good advert for Test cricket”.
In March, when Rawalpindi hosted the first Test of Australia’s tour of Pakistan, bat dominated ball to the extent that 1187 runs were scored for the loss of only 14 wickets over five days.
That pitch had earned a “below average” rating too, with match referee Ranjan Madugalle noting that the Test match did not “represent an even contest between bat and ball”.
Rawalpindi has now received demerit points in successive Test matches. Demerit points remain active for a five-year rolling period, and a venue stands to be suspended from hosting international cricket for a period of five years if it accumulates five demerit points. A “below average” rating earns a venue one demerit point, while “poor” and “unfit” ratings earn three and five demerit points, respectively.