How the ICC gave the ratings to the Pune and Bengaluru pitches

How pitches are judged? The ICC states “all pitches will be judged solely on how they play. The objective shall be to provide a balanced contest between bat and ball over the course of the match, allowing all the individual skills of the game to be demonstrated by the players at various stages of the match.”

The quality of the pitch in Bengaluru, while better compared to the one in Pune, still came under criticism from the match officials and the visiting team.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

Extreme anomalies in the behaviour of the pitch on the count of carry, bounce, seam movement and spin are given a substandard rating (‘below average’ and ‘poor’) by match officials (umpires and match-referee) adhering to ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process.

The ICC match-referee Chris Broad gave a ‘poor’ rating to Pune and ‘below average’ to Bengaluru where the first two Tests were played against Australia.

This specific process explains that “all pitches will be judged solely on how they play. The objective shall be to provide a balanced contest between bat and ball over the course of the match, allowing all the individual skills of the game to be demonstrated by the players at various stages of the match.”

The process further says “if the Match Referee’s pitch and outfield report rates a pitch and/or outfield as substandard, the ICC shall write to the home Board within five days of receipt of the Match Referee’s pitch and outfield report, enclosing a copy of such report and asking for a written report on the condition of the pitch and/or outfield including any extenuating circumstances which may have existed. The home Board report can include comments from the relevant ground authority. The home Board will be required to submit its report to the ICC within 14 days of receipt of the letter from ICC.”

The match-referee has the following options to rate the pitch and outfield:

Very good: Good carry, limited seam movement and consistent bounce throughout, little or no turn on the first two days, but natural wear sufficient to be responsive to spin later in the game.

Good: Average carry, limited seam movement, consistent bounce throughout, natural wear sufficient to be responsive to spin later in the game, though not quite meeting the criteria for carry and bounce for a “very good” pitch.

Above average: Lacks carry, and/or bounce and/or occasional seam movement, but consistent in carry and bounce. A degree of turn, but with average bounce for the spinner. Falling significantly short of “very good” with respect to carry, bounce and turn.

Below average: Either very little carry and/or bounce and/or more than occasional seam movement, or occasional variable (but not excessive or dangerous) bounce and/or occasional variable carry. If a pitch demonstrates these features, then the pitch can not be rated in a higher category regardless of the amount of turn the pitch displays at any stage of the match.

Poor (any of the following): (a) the pitch offers excessive seam movement at any stage of the match (b) the pitch displays excessive unevenness of bounce for any bowler at any stage of the match (c) the pitch offers excessive assistance to spin bowlers, especially early in the match (d) the pitch displays little or no seam movement or turn at any stage in the match together with no significant bounce or carry, thereby depriving the bowlers of a fair contest between bat and ball.

Unfit: A pitch may be rated ‘unfit’ if it is dangerous.

Sanctions for substandard (poor) pitches and /or outfields: First occasion: A warning and/or a fine not exceeding $15,000 given together with a directive for appropriate corrective action; 2nd or further occasions (within a period of five years of the previous finding): a fine not exceeding $30,000 given together with a directive for appropriate corrective action.