Australian player calls Ranchi Test pitch "most ridiculous" surface ever, Indian cricket board faces wrath of media

By @saihoops on
Australia's tour of India, Ranchi Test, Steven Smith
Cricket - India v Australia - Second Test cricket match - M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru, India - 06/03/17 - Australia's captain Steven Smith reacts in the field. Reuters / Danish Siddiqui

The Australian touring party to India, which includes the Test team led by captain Steven Smith and the media contingent, is appalled at the quality of pitch prepared for the third Test of the four-match series in Ranchi starting Thursday. With the series tied at one win apiece, the teams enter the decisive third Test at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium with the Border-Gavaskar series hanging in the balance.

The pitches have been the major talking point since the start of the series. After the pitch for the first Test in Pune was deemed as "poor" by the International Cricket Council (ICC), match referee Chris Broad reported that the surface for the second Test in Bangalore was "below average". Media outlets had previously reported that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) could face the wrath of the ICC if it rolls out another substandard surface. Upon glazing over the pitch for the third Test, Australia's worst fears came true. 

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian team "was stunned" Tuesday after looking at the pitch (see photos below) even as local officials prohibited players and the media from taking pitches or getting to close to the surface. Andrew Wuu, upon looking at close-up images of the surface, referred to it as a "flint-hard, bone-dry and grassless surface, which one Australian described as the most "ridiculous" pitch he had seen."

Australia's tour of India: Mystery surrounding Ranchi Test pitch

The report added that the slow and low pitch would adversely affect Australia's primary wicket-taking options such as off-spinner Nathan Lyon and the pace duo of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. "While there are theories the black soil in Ranchi will not produce a raging turner for Ravi Ashwin, his spin partner Ravindra Jadeja will be suited with his angle into the stumps of the right-hander. The same can also be said of Steve O'Keefe, Australia's shock match-winner in the first Test," Wuu wrote in his report published Tuesday.

According to The Daily Telegraph, CB Singh, the pitch curator for the Ranchi Test, "prepared three wickets for India to choose from last week, and he did nothing to cover up the level of pitch doctoring when he confirmed to Australian media yesterday (Monday) that the BCCI is indeed responsible for making the final call." Singh squarely shifted the blame from the local cricket association to the BCCI. “Officially it has to be decided by the guidelines. The state curator and the curators representing the BCCI."

Several reports suggest that the Australians are yet to decide on a final playing XI for the Ranchi Test. Due to the mystery surrounding the pitch, the Aussies could field one of Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Usman Khawaja and Ashton Agar in place of the injured Mitchell Marsh at the No. 6 spot. Stoinis, for one, is ready for his Test debut, regardless of the pitch that awaits the team. "I can't really tell what it's (the pitch) going to do. I think obviously it's going to spin, apparently it won't bounce as much as some of the other wickets but it's just something you wait and see."