Pakistan’s pitches from ‘dark ages’, says PCB chief Ramiz Raja

Published December 2, 2022
<p>Pakistan’s Abdullah Shafique (L) and teammate Imam-ul-Haq (C) run between the wicket during the second day of the first cricket Test match between Pakistan and England at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, in Rawalpindi on Friday. — AFP</p>

Pakistan’s Abdullah Shafique (L) and teammate Imam-ul-Haq (C) run between the wicket during the second day of the first cricket Test match between Pakistan and England at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, in Rawalpindi on Friday. — AFP

Pakistan’s pitches belonged in “the dark ages”, the country’s top cricket official said on Friday, after England plundered runs on a lifeless wicket in Rawalpindi.

The visitors were finally all out for 657 — including a record 506 from the first day on Thursday — with four batsmen scoring centuries off the hapless Pakistan bowling.

In reply, Pakistan’s openers were nearing centuries of their own at the close of the play on Friday with Abdullah Shafique on 89 and Imam-ul-Haq on 90.

Ramiz Raja, a former national captain and now Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief, said he was “not happy at all” over the state of the pitch, which he admitted was “not a great advert” for Test cricket.

“We live in the dark ages of pitches in Pakistan,” he told reporters, adding, “it’s embarrassing for us, especially if you have a cricketer as chairman.”

On the same pitch in March this year, some 1,187 runs were scored for the loss of just 14 wickets as Pakistan and Australia played out a tame draw.

Rawalpindi was termed “below average” by International Cricket Council match referee Ranjan Madugalle, who also awarded it a demerit point.

A venue is banned for 12 months if it accumulates five demerit points over a period of five years.

Pakistan has played little Test cricket at home for over a decade as security issues forced fixtures to neutral grounds abroad.

After the criticism earlier this year, Raja brought in Australian specialist Damien Hough, who suggested removable drop-in pitches as a solution.

“I think our way out is for drop-in pitches,” Raja said.

“If you want to nail England, for example, we’ve got to prepare a drop-in pitch that turns from ball number one,” he added.

“It is better than having this hodge-podge where you get a half-baked pitch which is neither quick nor spin,” the PCB chief explained.

Still, despite the placid surface, Raja credited England with making the most of the conditions.

“I’ve never seen batting like England’s on day one,” he said.

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