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ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024: New York pitch raises eyebrows

T20 World Cup 2024: Poor cricket pitches in USA really affecting the game overall? Is USA ready for marquee ICC events?

T20 World Cup 2024: Poor Cricket Pitches in USA raising eyebrows | Walking Wicket (Source_ ©ICC_X)
T20 WC 2024: Poor Cricket Pitches in USA raising eyebrows (Source: ©ICC/X)

The iconic Rockefeller Center in New York City, along with other marvels, was chosen for the historic edition of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024. It marked a significant milestone as the United States of America (USA) steps up to host this renowned cricketing event for the first time. 

Despite the high expectations, the USA's foray into international cricket has encountered challenges. The pitches in New York, particularly at the newly built Nassau County Stadium, have faced intense scrutiny. 

Multiple cricketing experts have criticised the pitches for their unpredictable and subpar conditions, raising concerns about their suitability for high-profile matches. The outfield conditions have also been questioned, casting a shadow over the venue's ability to meet international standards for such a prestigious event.

Poor USA Pitches

The issue of bad pitches became evident after a low-scoring opening game between South Africa and Sri Lanka, where the scores were 77 all out and 80 for four. This was far from the explosive hitting that the promoter had envisioned. 

The situation worsened during the match between India and Ireland, where runs were equally hard to come by. Ireland struggled with huge variations in bounce and were bowled out for 96. Although India chased the target with ample time, skipper Rohit Sharma, retired hurt after a sharp delivery from Josh Little struck him on the upper arm, emphasising the unpredictable pitch conditions.

Experts slam ICC for bad cricket pitches and outfield in USA

Many, including fans, former cricketers and the players putting in their blood for the coveted trophy came hard on ICC, ripping apart the council. Former India cricketer Manoj Tiwary pointed out how the ball tended to stop or lose pace when batters hit along the ground. Speaking on Cricbuzz, Tiwary lashed out at ICC for the poor conditions provided for an event as big as the World Cup.  

Senior commentator Harsha Bhogle also raised his voice against the poor pitches and outfield. “Have to do something about the pitches. Can't imagine India vs Pakistan on this one,” Bhogle said. Former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan wasn’t happy with the conditions on offer, as he described the pitch as ‘not ideal’, while former South Africa performance coach Prassana Agoram called it ‘terrible’.  

Andy Flower, a seasoned coach with experience worldwide, sounded a note of caution about the setup. “I’ve got to say that is not a good surface to play international cricket on. It is bordering on dangerous,” he told ESPN Cricinfo.  

Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar said, “It seems the cart has been put before the horse. With all the excitement of getting cricket in New York, the most important thing, which is the pitch, isn’t living up to the hype.”  

Former England captain Michael Vaughan took to X (formerly Twitter) and said, “Shocking pitch. Trying to sell the game in the states is it..but for players to have to play on this sub-standard surface in New York is unacceptable.” 

T20 World Cup 2024, IRE vs IND_ Rohit Sharma scored fifty against Ireland _ Walking Wicket (Source_ ©T20worldcup_X)
Rohit Sharma retired hurt after got hit in upper arm (Source: ©T20worldcup/X)
Decreased Viewership

The seating capacity of the stadium and the turnout of viewers have raised significant concerns for the ICC and associated brands. It was surprising to see empty stands for India’s opening match, even though it was against Ireland. While the side stands were full, the hospitality stands with a prime view of the action were sparsely populated. 

The Nassau County Stadium, set to host the high-profile India vs Pakistan match, can accommodate up to 34,000 spectators. However, the enthusiasm among Americans does not seem to align with the ICC's goal of popularising cricket in the USA.

Several media reports suggest that Disney, which holds the media rights in India for international cricket and has an agreement for the 2024-2027 period, is reportedly dissatisfied with the lack of promotion and the overall management of this year's T20 World Cup.

Injury Concerns for Players

The dangerous condition of the pitch became more transparent when India skipper Rohit Sharma had to exit the game following a hit to his upper arm by pacer Josh Little, sparking worry among spectators and the club officials. 

The situation escalated with Rishabh Pant getting hurt in the 11th over, again from Little's pitch. Despite the injury, Pant managed to get back in the game and hit a winning six. More information on the extent of the injuries to both players will be provided soon. These events have stirred deep worries regarding the safety of the players on such pitches.

Why such pitches and outfields?

Several factors contributed to the pitches being underprepared. When they were brought in from Australia, New York was experiencing cold, rainy, and snowy weather. To give the pitches the best chance of being ready, they were taken to Florida before being shipped back to New York.

Even if the weather in New York had been ideal and the pitches were ready, it is unlikely that the ICC had accounted for the necessary bedding-in period. Normally, drop-in pitches take a little time to settle in, but the tight timelines and a harsh winter in this part of the world have ruled out that possibility.

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