Indicators of pitch problems fall into two groups:
1. The way the pitch plays
2. The way the pitch looks
How does the pitch play?
One of the first signs of pitch problems is low and slow pitches. These are pitches where the ball keeps low after bouncing and loses pace as the ball hits the surface (the red dashed line above). These conditions are often more batsman friendly than bowler friendly but can make it difficult for the batsman to time the ball. Many clubs will have what are known as ‘front foot pitches’ with low bounce and slow pace. Another sign of a poor pitch profile is excessive or ‘tennis ball bounce’ where the ball bounces more than the length would predict (blue dotted line), or uneven bounce where balls pitching on the same length have different bounce heights from the same bowler. Pace and bounce are often the first signs that players and umpires will rely on for judging a pitch and are related to either the way a pitch has been prepared or the nature of the pitch below the surface (the pitch profile). When dealing with variable or poor pace and bounce, the groundsman should investigate the profile to identify the cause and an appropriate solution (see Stage 2).
To find out more about ball bounce and pitch profile click here.
How does the pitch look?
Players and umpires are also influenced by how the pitch looks (although this doesn’t always reflect how a pitch will play). Poor grass coverage, grass that is easily removed by the boot, moss and disease, yellow or wilted grass and excessive cracking are all visual indicators of potential problems below. These problems are often related to poor plant growth below the ground. To find out more about how root growth is affected by the pitch profile click here.
Pace and bounce, and grass growth are only the symptoms of the problem however – to get to the cause we need to get into the pitch and investigate the profile – see Stage 2.
Back: Six Stage Overview