Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cricket Rules - dimensions of ground

Highest individual scores in ODIs
Above list of 13 highest top scorers in ODI format is quite interesting one. It has great batsmen, tremendous strike rates, involvement of test playing nations (well, almost). And now, gradually, shift your attention to the right most column-‘Ground’. What do you see? 9 out of 13 scores are in Indian subcontinent - 5 out of those 9 are in India itself! Now, what does that mean? What triggers batsmen so much that they love to score such big scores in Indian subcontinent?

Few reasons:-
  • Subcontinent pitches are flat – batsman friendly
  • No much movement either through seam or swing for fast bowlers
  • List includes majority of players playing in known home conditions
  • Batsmen are just too great – it’s obvious they scored these big scorers
All the above points can be arguably agreed upon. Thought, there is one more point which I want to discuss is size of ‘Grounds’. As you know, most of subcontinent grounds are smaller as compared to the grounds in England, South Africa. Grounds in Australia, I believe, are largest. Now this certainly brings one question in my mind. Why there is difference in dimensions of cricket grounds across the world? And what guideline has ICC/ MCC set for dimensions of cricket ground?

Here it goes:
“Law 19.1 - The boundaries of the field of play
The following shall apply in addition to law 19.1:
The playing area shall be a minimum of 150 yards (137.16 metres) from boundary to boundary square of the pitch, with the shorter of the two square boundaries being a minimum 65 yards (59.43 metres). The straight boundary at both ends of the pitch shall be a minimum of 70 yards (64.00 metres). Distances shall be measured from the centre of the pitch to be used.  In all cases the aim shall be to provide the largest playing area, subject to no boundary exceeding 90 yards (82.29 meters) from the centre of the pitch to be used....”

This means, grounds can have square sides starting from 65 yards to 90 yards. Straight boundaries can be anything between 70 yards to 90 yards.

Why is this non uniformity? I understand in today’s schedules, number of international/ domestic matches are being played on the same ground. Hence we need different pitches on the same ground to play different matches. Hence, there is no fixed centre point of pitch. And therefore, we need to give enough room on both sides (65-85 yards/ 70-90 yards). Which ultimately makes ground dimensions non uniform - with one of the edges of boundary remaining closer than the diametrically opposite one, from center of pitch.

But, frankly, is it such a big task to keep playing pitch exactly at center? While constructing/ reconstructing the ground, it can be predetermined how many main playing pitches will be there. Accordingly, on all sides, required space can be left, so that whichever pitch is used, the ground outer dimensions will be same by adjusting outer boundaries.

The current rule allows difference in boundary dimensions of same ground and also difference in two separate grounds. This affects the totals scored by countries, individual scores, number of boundaries, sixes; even number of 2s and 3s. So, a shot played in India which fetches 4 for a batman can fetch just 3 in Australia- that too by running hard. An over the top six in Pakistan can be an easy catch in the hands of a boundary line fielder in South Africa. Smaller ground are in many ways, batsman friendly and nightmare for bowlers, while bigger grounds are tougher for batsmen, fielders but not so for bowlers. Making dimensions universal will standardize the game.

Cricket is now established game. It should have universal dimensions for grounds across the globe. One can argue, Sehwag’s 219 in India could just have been 190 in Australia. Or 350 in Australia could be 400 in India. For comparing scores and stats of different venues, we must have same set of parameters, measurement tools; otherwise those comparisons become a little unrealistic! Finally, have you ever heard that goalposts in Brazil are bigger in size than goalposts in Germany or the corner point of right side is closer to goalpost than that of left?

1 comment:

  1. completely agreeing with you... cricket should have universal dimension