ICC Media Release
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has given Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) an official warning for preparing a poor quality pitch for the first Test between Sri Lanka and Australia which was played in Galle from 31 August to 4 September.
It has also directed that ICC’s pitch consultant Andy Atkinson will carry out an inspection of the square and make recommendations on any corrective action that may be required.
SLC, in turn, is to submit a report to the ICC confirming that the corrective actions, as advised by Mr Atkinson, had been carried out prior to the staging of the next international match at the venue. The inspection by Mr Atkinson will be carried out at the end of this month.
The ICC decision is given under the provisions of the ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process, which was introduced in 2006 to ensure international cricket is played in conditions of a suitably high standard.
Chris Broad of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees had submitted a report to the ICC expressing his concerns over the quality of the pitch prepared for the match which Australia won by 125 runs.
In accordance with the process, the ICC’s General Manager – Cricket, David Richardson, and the ICC’s chief match referee, Ranjan Madugalle, then considered the match referee’s report, a response from SLC and the video footage of the match, before passing judgment.
Detailing the decision, Mr Richardson said: “We have come to a decision that the pitch prepared for the match should be rated as ‘poor’.
“It was clear from the video footage of the match that the amount of turn, especially early in the match, was excessive and there were occasions (even on the first day) where the ball went through the surface of the pitch, bouncing unusually steeply from a good length.
“Whilst it is understandable and acceptable for a pitch to deteriorate over the course of the match, for a pitch to exhibit this type of behavior at relatively early stages of the match was not acceptable. Whilst we do not wish to see a pitch that is too heavily weighted in favour of the batsmen, in this instance, the balance was just too much in favour of the bowler.”
“However, taking into account that it was the first time that a pitch at Galle has been rated as “poor” and given the intention of the curator to prepare a pitch that provided a fair balance between bat and ball, we have decided to impose a warning as the sanction.
“We have also directed that ICC’s pitch consultant Any Atkinson carry out an inspection of the square with a view to making recommendations to ensure that in future the manner of preparation is in line with what is required to ensure that a better balance between bat and ball is achieved,” added Mr Richardson.
The ICC had the power to impose a sanction ranging from a warning and/or fine (for a first offence) to a suspension of the international status of the venue in the case of repeated offences.