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Pakistan v England 2022/23

‘A lame and pathetic excuse’ – PCB chair Ramiz Raja criticised for ‘years away from preparing a good pitch’ remarks

The Rawalpindi pitch which has come in for criticism and PCB chair Ramiz Raja
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chair Ramiz Raja has come in for criticism for suggesting Pakistan are “still years away from preparing a good five-day pitch” during a radio interview.

The surface in use for the ongoing Pakistan-England Test at Rawalpindi has come in for criticism due to its flat nature, with the tourists breaking all manner of records on the first day and the hosts putting together a century opening stand in reply.

The game is not the first to see bat dominate ball since Test cricket’s return to Pakistan, with Rawalpindi copping a demerit point for a ‘below average’ surface in Pakistan’s draw with Australia earlier this year, and several other run-fests passing by.


Speaking to BBC Test Match Special, Raja bemoaned the state of pitches in Pakistan.

“I have really not cracked the code regarding a Test match pitch, unfortunately,” Raja said at lunch on the second day of the first Test. “The reason why I’m stressing on drop-in pitches in Pakistan is, you’ll go to Multan or you’ll go to Karachi and you’ll get a similar flavour. We don’t get bounce. It’s got to do with clay, how we prepare a pitch, I don’t know what is happening. T20s and ODIs, we are fine, and the pitch doesn’t come under that come kind of scrutiny, but we are still years away from preparing a good five-day pitch.”

Raja was criticised for these comments, with many pointing out that pitches in Pakistan haven’t been uniformly flat. “Really bizarre line to take given there’s been some really good Test pitches since the return,” tweeted ESPNcricinfo senior editor Osman Samiuddin.

One tweet pointed out the series of sub-400 first-innings scores at Rawalpindi during the recent Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, along with a picture of a green surface at the venue.

“That’s odd,” tweeted Pakistan cricket writer Amer Malik, “the chairman must be completely ignorant of the great 4 day wickets which were produced during QeA trophy [sic] What a lame and pathetic excuse.”

Raja took over as PCB chair in September 2021, and it was pointed out that the Rawalpindi Test before he took over, against South Africa, saw an even battle between bat and ball. All the totals were between 200 and 300, and seamers took 24 of the 40 wickets to fall.

If the Rawalpindi surface is rated ‘poor’, then one more demerit point in a four-year period would see the venue banned from hosting international cricket for a year. Pakistan’s World Test Championship hopes are also in danger of vanishing if they draw too many home Tests.

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