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How to Read a Cricket Pitch

At the start of a cricket match, you will see the team captains from both sides examining the pitch.  They then toss a coin to see which captain gets to decide who will bat first.  This decision takes a number of factors into account, one of which is the starting conditions of the pitch and the expected conditions as play unfolds.  This is particularly important in test cricket where matches may go on for days and the pitch conditions may evolve tremendously.

As a bettor, you need to be skilled in reading the pitch conditions as well.  Based on your knowledge of the pitch, the weather conditions, previous cricket tournament and league results and the strengths and weaknesses of both of the teams, you may be able to make a determination over which team is likely to win a match.  If you do not understand pitch conditions, your analysis will be incomplete and you may miss a decisive factor.


Here are some questions you should ask yourself when you are analysing the pitch.  Clearly you will not be able to answer these questions as concretely watching on the TV as you would be able to in person, but you can still hazard some educated guesses. 


1.  Is the pitch wet?  How wet?

A wet pitch plays slowly.  A pitch which is still damp but drying out will put a lot of turn on the ball, but play will get easier as the pitch gets drier.


2.  Is there a lot of grass on the pitch?

Dry, dusty pitches are best for spinners.  Pitches which have a lot of grass on top on the other hand produce a fair amount of seam movement.  This is particularly true if the pitch is also hard.  This makes it challenging for spinners to turn the ball.  Also note that the conditions of a grassy pitch may change as the day progresses, becoming easier to bat on as the game unfolds.  This might prompt the captain who wins the toss to opt for batting second. 


3.  Is the pitch hard?  How hard?

A really firm pitch is something of a rarity in the UK, although you may come across one now and again in other countries (like Australia or South Africa).  Hard pitches produce higher bounce and tend to favour batsmen and bowlers equally.


So now you know a few factors to look out for when you are evaluating a pitch - and you have some idea what team captains are looking out for as well.  To learn even more about cricket pitches and how to analyse them, read on to Types of Cricket Pitches.


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