Pakistan’s pitches belonged in “the dark ages", the country’s top cricket official said Friday, after England plundered runs on a lifeless wicket in Rawalpindi.
In their first test in Pakistan in 17 years, England racked up a monumental 657 in its first innings at a rapid pace of 6.5 an over with four of its five top batters — Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope — smashing centuries.
In reply, Pakistan’s openers were nearing centuries of their own at close of play Friday with Abdullah Shafique on 89 and Imam-ul-Haq 90.
Ramiz Raja, a former national captain and now Pakistan Cricket Board 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.
“It is better than having this hodge-podge where you get a half-baked pitch which is neither quick nor spin."
The Pindi Cricket Stadium pitch was criticised during Australia’s tour in March when ICC match referee Ranjan Madugalle rated the wicket as below average after only 14 wickets fell in five days.
Raja was impressed with England’s aggressive intent, which has seen the team beating New Zealand and South Africa at home this summer under McCullum’s fearless approach.
“We’re seeing a new template in test match cricket, which is taking the game to the opposition,” Raja said. “There’s been a solid planning and a solid thought behind the entire exercise. It’s not like the button has switched on where you suddenly produce four centuries and a score of 500 in a day.
“We want Pakistan to change course. Let’s see whether we are able to do that or not, but it will take time for sub-continent teams to have that kind of mentality.”
(With inputs from Agencies)