Cricket Pitch - All you need to know

On match days during the pitch report, we see cricket commentators analyzing the pitch based on different factors and give their opinion on what type of pitch it is and what should the team winning the toss should do. We do not see them analyzing the size of the ground or other factors much as the result of the match is majorly decided by the characteristics of the pitch on which it is played on. This shows the importance of the pitch among all the playing conditions. Let’s try to understand more about this important playing condition – the cricket pitch.

Source: Cricket Taiwan

Pitch Measurements:
Let’s start with the dimensions of the cricket pitch. A cricket pitch is a rectangular area in the ground which is of 22 yards (20.12 meters) in length stump-to-stump and 10 feet (3.05 meters) in width as shown in the picture below. A crease in line with the stumps is drawn on either side of the pitch, called bowling crease.
Another crease called popping crease is drawn on each end of the pitch in front of each set of stumps parallel to the bowling crease. This popping crease is 4 feet (1.2 meters) in front of the stumps. The size and measurements of a cricket ground varies from ground to ground but, the size of the pitch and its measurements remain the same everywhere, as these have to follow the MCC laws of cricket.

Source: Wikipedia

Protected (Danger) Area:

The central portion of the cricket pitch is called protected area or danger area. It is a rectangular portion which starts five feet in front of each popping crease and it is of width 2 feet. As per MCC rules, no player is allowed to run on this area of the pitch. This area is protected because the ball bounces the most in this area during the match. Any damage to this area of the pitch will give more advantage to bowlers relatively over batsman.

In case a bowler runs on this danger area more than twice (will be warned by the umpire the first two times), the bowler is removed from the spell and will not be allowed to bowl again for the rest of the innings. On the other hand, there is an exception to this rule – the bowler or any other fielder from the fielding side can run on this protected area in an effort to field the ball.

Source: Quora

In case a batsman runs on this danger area more than two times (will be warned by the umpire the first two times), five penalty runs are awarded to the opposition team. For more details on this, please refer to the Article 41.14.3 of the ICC Unfair Play Rules.

Types of Pitches:

There could be many types of cricket pitches, but they can be mainly categorized into three types – Green, Dusty and Dead pitches. Let’s take a look at each of these types briefly:

Green Pitches – In these types of pitches, the pitch is mostly covered with grass. These pitches assist pace bowlers, providing ample swing and seam movement (How? Well, we will cover it in another blog!). Batsmen will find it difficult facing swing bowlers, as batsmen will have short time to judge the movement of the ball. Few batsmen with great skill and ability can score runs on these pitches.

Generally, teams will pick one main spinner or no spinner at all if the pitch is a green one, as there will not be much help for spinners on these types of tracks. These green top pitches are generally made for test matches.

Dusty Pitches – These types of pitches are generally dry and can develop cracks easily. The surface of the dusty pitch is soft and is unrolled. This creates favorable conditions for the spin bowlers as they can extract both spin and bounce from these. Mostly, pitches in sub-continent fall into this category.

Teams generally pick more spinners compared to pacers if the pitch is dusty, as these are not pacer friendly. The Test match between Afghanistan and Bangladesh (in September 2019) is one such classic example where only one pacer was picked both the teams combined.

Dead Pitches – These types of pitches are also called flat pitches. They have no grass cover and hence no hint of moisture in the pitch. Also, these pitches are rolled completely. Because of these factors, these pitches don’t offer any help to either pacers or spinners and are used in T20 cricket matches and some one-day matches. These pitches favor the batsmen for the whole game and hence are spectator friendly.

These days, these pitches are generally used in all the One-day and T20 matches held across the world to make the matches high scoring.

Drop-in Pitches:
A drop-in pitch is a pitch that is prepared elsewhere away from the venue, and "dropped" into place for a match to take place. This facility allows the ground or the venue to be used for multiple sporting events. These were first developed for use in the World Series Cricket matches.

Selection of the pitch for the match

The Ground authority shall be responsible for the selection and preparation of the pitch. However, the umpires shall control the use and maintenance of the pitch.
Once the pitch is selected, the ICC rules do not allow players to practice bowling or batting on the pitch, or on the area parallel and immediately adjacent area to the pitch at any time on any day of the match.
Practice on a day of a match on any other part of the cricket square may take place only before the start of play or after the close of play on that day and must cease 30 minutes before the scheduled start of play or if detrimental to the surface of the square.
Maintenance of the pitch

As the pitch deteriorates throughout a match, this can also have considerable influence on the success (or lack) of a team's bowling or batting efforts.

Pitches in different parts of the world have different characteristics. But, these should be maintained as per the MCC laws. The maintenance of the pitch is governed by Law 9 of MCC, as part of which rolling, mowing, clearance of debris from the pitch, maintenance of foot-holes, watering the pitch (not on match days) is done to maintain the pitch for allowing fair play in the match between both the teams. We will cover about these more in another blog.

Pitch Condition and Safety:

The pitch shall not be changed during the match unless it is decided by the umpires, if the surface is dangerous or unreasonable for play, and also only with the consent of both captains.

Certain conditions, as set out by the ICC, must be met to ensure that a pitch is fit and safe to play on. If the pitch is found to favor one side, or if it is found to be dangerous, the match may, after agreement between the captains and the match officials (umpires), be abandoned completely or possibly be rescheduled.


By now, you must have understood the importance ICC and the teams give to pitches on which the match is played on. As the nature of the pitch plays an important role in the actual game, it may have a significant influence on team selection and other aspects. On the other hand, we feel pitches should not be tailored in favor of home teams or else one would only get to see one-sided boring encounters which is a danger to the sport itself.

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