Types Of Cricket Pitches – A Concise Guide

You might have come across a lot of cricket discussions about runs, wickets, victories, losses, impact performances, records, players, their funny videos, etc. But, in this article, we are going to discuss the most important aspect of the game, which plays a huge role in every match – “The pitch”.

I will give a fact check before going into the article – Do you know the only rule that is unchanged in cricket from the start till today?
It is the length of the pitch, which equates to 22 yards. No other rule has stood the test of the time so far.

Importance Of Pitch

Pitch plays a big role in the match and you might have seen every captain speak about the pitch conditions in the toss & decide about batting or chasing accordingly. 

Almost 99% of balls bowled in cricket pitches in the strip before reaching the batsmen and that is where the role of pitch comes into play. The ball might swing, turn, bounce, skid, etc as per the pitch conditions on offer. 

Different Types Of Cricket Pitches

Different Types Of Pitches In Cricket

Let us now see in-depth about the different pitch conditions and how their playing characteristics.

Hard Pitch

A hard pitch is a very lively one and has something in it for both batsmen and bowlers. The pitch is known to have consistent bounce, and batsmen play the ball freely as the ball comes onto the ball nicely. 

The pitch might spice up as the match progresses, and cracks open up in the track. The ball bounces steeply and deviates from the track once the pitch spices. Faster bowlers enjoy bowling here more than the spinners. 

These kinds of tracks can be mostly found in Australian and South African conditions where the ball troubles the batsmen with pace and bounce on offer. Remember the bouncers of Mitchell Johnson in the Ashes 2014? 

Green Track

A green track has a lot of grass on it and is known as the seamer`s paradise when coupled with overcast conditions. The extra grass on the pitch makes the ball swing and skid off the surface. 

The batsmen must play the ball late and wait for the ball to lose the shine to take advantage of these conditions. Seam bowlers make the ball talk with their swinging deliveries making the batsmen dance to their tunes. 

These kinds of tracks are mostly found in England and New Zealand conditions. Jimmy Anderson is one of the best swing bowlers and is a nightmare on these kinds of tracks. 

Dusty Track

Dusty tracks are the surfaces that are soft, unrolled, and mostly devoid of any grass cover on it. These kinds of pitches aid the spin bowlers, and pacers have very little impact on these surfaces. 

The ball might stay low and trouble the batsmen. A batsmen`s footwork will always be challenged on these kinds of tracks by quality spinners. 

These kinds of tracks can be found mostly in sub-continental places like India and Sri Lanka. Remember the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja troubling every batting lineup!!!

Flat Track

Flat tracks are the kind of surfaces that have very little spice in them, causing less movement of the ball after pitching. These kinds of tracks are batsmen`s paradise as they will be less challenged by the bowlers. 

The bowlers will find it hard on these wickets as they don’t provide seam movement or uneven bounce. These tracks provide high scoring but boring contest, and we see these kinds of tracks mostly in limited-overs these days where the bat dominates the ball. These tracks are not suited for Test cricket. 

Damp Wicket

A damp wicket contains more moisture content causing the ball to slow down and keep low after pitching. Seamers will enjoy the extra moisture as the ball swings early on due to it, while the spinners will look to take advantage of the low bounce on offer. 

The batsmen will have to make adjustments and play the ball late, and the slow nature of the track will make run-scoring a bit tough. These kinds of tracks provide low scoring contests, and the bowlers may not run through the batting order like in green tracks or dust bowls. 

These tracks are found in Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and some West Indian tracks off late. 

Drop-in Pitch

A drop-in pitch is a pitch which is usually prepared in a different location and then installed in the center of the ground. These pitches are normally used in grounds where multiple sporting events take place. 

These kinds of pitches are mostly found in Australia & New Zealand, where the grounds are used for rugby matches also. The drop-in pitches are usually slower and posses less bounce & carry than the normal pitches. 

And the traditionalists believe drop-in pitches produce high scoring boring contests. The drop-in pitches were first used in World Series Cricket matches in 1970.

ICC’s Pitch Rating

International Cricket Council gives a rating to the pitches based on the suggestions of the match referee after the conclusion of every match. The pitch has been the subject of continuous debate, especially in Test format, with pitches been doctored to favor home teams. 

The ICC match referee will have to consider the different factors such as the dryness of the pitch, moisture content at the start of the match, consistency of seam, bounce and turn on various days of the match. 

After considering the different guidelines set for him, depending on the format played, the match referee will rate the pitch in the below five categories. 

  1. Very Good – good bounce & carry along with consistent seam movement. The pitch might turn on the last two days of the match due to natural wear. A good balance between the bat & ball is achieved. 
  2. Good – Considerable carry & bounce with seam movement. Responsive to spin in the last two-three days of the game. 
  3. Above Average – Lacks seam movement with good carry & bounce usually. A good degree of turn with little bounce on offer for spinners.
  4. Below Average – Has very little or excessive carry or seam movement with variable bounce. And it must not be dangerous to cause concern to the player’s safety. 
  5. Poor – Uneven bounce, excessive movement, more assistance to spinners in the early part of the match. Maybe no seam movement with very little to no carry disrupting the balance between the bat and ball.
  6. Unfit – A pitch causing concern to the player’s safety with uneven bounce and the matches are usually forfeited if the pitch is deemed unfit to play. 

The Wanderers` pitch in South Africa was the last one to be deemed unfit after uneven bounce caused injury and trouble to batsmen in a test match between India and South Africa (Jan 2018).

The pitches will be awarded demerit points if they are deemed poor or unfit to play by the ICC match referee and may also face suspension depending upon the demerit points.

Damaging The Pitch

You might have come across the term “damaging the pitch” and players being fined for doing the same in the pitches. A certain portion of the pitch is called the danger area, and the players are prohibited from stepping in these places. 

The danger zone is usually a two feet wide zone from the center of the wicket at a distance of five feet from the popping crease, and this is the place where most of the deliveries land or pitch. 

Bowlers should not step in this zone in their follow-through, and if they are found to violate the rule, they will be warned by the umpire. A third warning by the umpire means the bowler will be suspended from bowling in that innings.

Similarly, the batsmen avoid running on the danger area, and the umpire will dock five runs penalty if they are found to breach this rule and receive two warnings.

Final Thoughts

The pitch is one of the central components of cricket matches, and it has a huge factor in playing conditions, scores, and performances.

The teams usually look to pick the players who are well suited to the style of the pitch. Players who adapt to the pitch conditions are more successful in the game.

I hope this article was helpful to you. Thanks for reading!


Aashina Arora

Aashina Arora is a sports enthusiast from Delhi. She has been a national lawn tennis player, but after that, she developed an interest in Cricket. She participated in matches at the college level as well. She is a huge cricket fan and shares her enthusiasm by writing articles for this site.

Recent Posts