“All cricket grounds around the world are different, that is what makes international cricket so much harder than first class cricket. You have to travel to various parts of the world and play in conditions you aren’t familiar with and accustomed too,” says Michael Clarke. Each country has a different culture, different weather and climate, and different food which creates an environment that players, therefore, aren’t used to experiencing. As part of being a professional athlete, it is their ability to adapt to situations like these, which set them apart from other athletes – their ability to perform at their best anywhere in the world.
The wickets in India tend to be very low and slow, the ball favours a lot of spin, and it is much harder for fast bowling as there isn’t a lot of bounce and pace in the wicket. The Indian lifestyle is very different, for example, Indian people are late risers, their day will start later and therefore have dinner later, therefore requiring a change to usual preparation and routine for non-local players. The heat is one of the main challenges an international athlete will face in India. This climate can cause the player to need to alter their preparation for matches. For example, due to the hot playing conditions, players might need to drink more fluids and eat different foods to cope with this change. Therefore it is important players adapt quickly to these changes to maintain consistent performance.
In England as a result of the cold weather, it causes the pitches to swing and seam a little bit more than usual, this can make it quite tough and challenging for batting at times. Again a very different culture and climate to what you would experience in the subcontinent. Adapting preparation and being flexible is once again important to be able to have success here.
Australia has pitches that favour prime batting conditions as the ball can move around but mostly in Australia pitches are as consistent as anywhere in the world for batting. Grounds and stadiums in Australia are immaculate, Australia has some of the best facilities in the world, the outfields are pristine with great drainage, and the climate allows for curators to produce first-class batting wickets. The heat in Australia can change quite drastically depending on the location within the country, Perth and QLD can be very humid, whereas Melbourne can be a lot cooler. It is important players can be flexible and adapt to the change in environment.
Somewhere like South Africa has similarities to Australia in regards to climate. The wickets are quite fast, so you get more pace and bounce from these pitches. These conditions favour fast bowling and don’t tend to spin much.
West Indies/Sri Lanka
In the West Indies and Sri Lanka, they have considerably slow wickets; some can spin, but mostly the wicket causes the ball to stay quite low. At these grounds, the outfields are a lot rougher in comparison to Australia. These conditions make it much harder to field as you don’t have the confidence to attack the ball because the bounce of the ball is not predictable. A first grade ground in Australia would be similar to some of the facilities you would expect to see in the West Indies, not as immaculately kept and the size of the fields are a lot smaller. The climate has similarities to that of India, again requiring the flexibility and adaptability of players.
New Zealand has grounds that are a lot smaller then some stadiums around the world, they can only fit a smaller on average amount of people in to watch at some of their grounds. Eden Park being their biggest stadium can hold a maximum of 50,000 people, compared to Australia’s largest ground, the MCG, which can hold 100,000 people. It makes it easier to score a greater number of runs in New Zealand because of the small boundaries, whereas at the MCG they are larger and therefore scoring a high number of runs there can be more challenging. New Zealand is more suited to fast bowling because the ball swings and seams there.
There are a lot of differences between the pitches and grounds around the world, as well as the lifestyle, culture, food, hotels and service. “These differences are what made it so great playing international cricket, the fact that you could experience different cultures whilst all sharing a common love for the game of cricket,” says Michael Clarke.
Photo: Michael Clarke at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore