The Sydney Cricket Ground has been hit for six, with a survey of state captains and match referees voting it the worst first-class venue in .
In what has become a contentious report for one of world cricket’s most prestigious venues, the SCG was voted – when it comes to pitch and outfield conditions – arguably worse than council-run venues.
However, the SCG Trust hit back, claiming a contentious vote in the match involving the Blues and Victoria had not been amended to include the match referee’s rating.
Cricket on Wednesday publicly released for the first time the ratings of each Sheffield Shield venue, the move coming after the International Cricket Council’s recent naming and shaming of international venues not up to scratch – as seen during ‘s tour of India.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground, Brisbane’s Gabba, the Adelaide Oval and Perth’s WACA Ground rated highly for pitch and outfield conditions during the Shield season.
The SCG’s figures were a worry for CA. Only once did the ground receive the full five votes for the standard of the pitch, and on one occasion it received two votes. That came after Victoria won by 198 runs in November, with Peter Handscomb thumping a double century and the Blues being bowled out for 192 in their second innings. Blues skipper Steve Smith rated the pitch poor but Victorian counterpart Matthew Wade disagreed and match referee Daryl Harper disagreed.
Officials have also not forgotten that a Shield clash against Victoria at the SCG was abandoned in November 2015 because of unsafe conditions.
Pitches are rated on bounce, turn and seam. In terms of the outfield, three times the SCG was given a modest three votes, with the full five votes on the remaining occasion. Outfields are judged highly on how quickly the ball travels to the boundary. Overall, in four games, the SCG polled 29 votes, averaging 7.25.
CA operations manager Sean Cary said curators, on the whole, were providing “high-standard” conditions.
“There is, obviously, one venue where the scores were less than a four out of five from a pitch and outfield. We hope they take note of that and put measures in place to fix up any issues they might have,” he said.
But a spokesman for the SCG Trust said it would seek an explanation from CA why an “unfair adjustment” had not been revised.
“CA were advised by the match referee to review the poor rating given to the SCG pitch for the NSW v Victoria match. The NSW captain’s rating was at odds with that of the Victorian captain and the officiating umpires,” he said.
By comparison, in four matches at the MCG, three times it was given the full five votes for the outfield and pitch, with four votes for each category in the remaining game. Overall, the MCG polled 38 votes, averaging 9.5.
The Gabba polled 27 votes in three games (average 9), the Adelaide Oval 37 votes in four games (9.25), while the WACA had 48 in five games (average 9.6) and Blundstone Arena 47 in five (average 9.4).
In one-off matches at Gliderol Stadium (Glenelg), North Dalton Park (Wollongong) and Tony Ireland Stadium (Townsville), each received four votes apiece for the standard of pitches and outfield.
The ratings were given post-match in Sheffield Shield games by the two captains and match referee – with the curator present the majority of the time, ensuring what CA says was a transparent process.
It’s understood all n venues used for international matches last summer were given at least a “good” rating by the ICC.
At their annual conference last year, curators agreed when preparing first-class pitches they would consider four points: a balance between bat and ball, to preserve the unique characteristics of each pitch, promote entertaining cricket and showcase the skills of all players.
CA says the “ultimate” day of cricket would produce 10 wickets and 300 runs.