It is going to take some time for cricket as a sport to recover from this one.
The opening day of play in the Third Test between Australia turned into an unmitigated farce in Indore as Australia rolled India for just 109 in scenes of absolute carnage.
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India won the toss and batted but at the drinks break after the first hour of play, the home side was already 5/45 down.
Cricket commentators around the world have been left absolutely seething at the conditions with the match showing signs it could all be over early on Day 3.
Former Aussie Test captain Michael Clarke joined the avalanche of outrage on Thursday morning, calling the pitch “crap”.
“What is this pitch we’re playing on,” he said on Sky Sports Radio.
“For me, it’s the puff and dust that’s being picked up from either the quicks or the spinners. It shows it’s only going to get worse. It’s like a Day 3 pitch on Day 1 in India.
“You don’t want to see that. India could have been bowled out for 70.”
He said Australia will struggle to chase down anything more than a target of 80 runs in its fourth innings if the deck continues to deteriorate as expected.
Mark Waugh said on Fox Cricket during the day’s play the pitch was “Not up to Test standard”.
“That was mayhem. The pitch is not up to Test standard. The ball going through the top within the first 20 minutes of the Test match. That’s not good enough,” Waugh said on Fox.
“If the ball is going through the top in the first 20 minutes of a Test match off the main part of the pitch, that’s going to show the pitch is not up to Test standard.
“That’s the main part of the pitch on middle stump. That’s just not a pitch up to Test standard. That’s not good enough. It doesn’t matter how good a player you are, you’re going to need to get luck.”
Waugh said the farcical thing about the pitch prepared in Indore is that it is so radical it doesn’t help India.
“That surface does not favour India because it’s just luck involved. India are dominant on a pitch like we saw in the first two Tests. Where it suits the spinners, but as a batsman you can play on it.”
Matthew Hayden was even more scathing.
“This is why I’ve got a problem with these conditions. There’s no way in the world that a spin bowler should come on in the sixth over,” Hayden said on Fox Cricket.
“4.8 degrees, that’s massive turn. That’s the sort of turn you’d expect day three. You’ve got to give batters a chance … Day one, day two should be about batting.”
Former Indian quick Ajit Agarkar called it a “spin bowler’s paradise”.
But Hayden said “it shouldn’t be keeping low and turning a mile on day one”.
“Forget the result, don’t worry about if Australia win or lose or India win or lose, it shouldn’t be like that in Test match cricket,” he added.
Earlier, Hayden had said it was already looking like a “day three-type wicket” on day one with big cracks already opening up.
Although Hayden conceded it was “entertaining cricket”, the pitch looked much older than a pitch just over an hour into a Test match.
“My point is that the Test should not be moving along this quickly,” Hayden said.
“You’re allowed to have a four, five day Test match. Otherwise call it what it is and we’ll just play three-dayers.
“The game moving at this pace, you feel sorry for the fans who try and work out what their tickets are going to be on day four.”
And cricket fans from both nations were less than thrilled by the conditions.
Nine’s Tom Rehn posted: “I absolutely love low scoring test matches and think generally too much favours the batters. But taking alliances out of it, this test pitch is beyond embarrassing. A match designed to last 5 days will be lucky to last 2.”
Former Aussie spinner Brad Hogg joked: “One day test match anyone?”
Sports editor at India’s ABP News GS Vivek wrote: “What are the chances that this pitch too will be rated “average” by the #ICC match referee? Who will compensate if Indore and it’s curator losing their reputation catering to patriotic sentiments of a turning track.”
ABC Sport’s Akash Fotedar tweeted: “I’m all for turning pitches, different conditions around the world etc. Nothing wrong with the pitches in the first two Test matches, but right now the pitch in Indore seems like a lottery. That’s not good.”
Deputy editor at India Today Rahul Rawat commented: “It’s a dust bowl in Indore, the cleanest city in the country. Ball’s already turning square and it’s been just one hour into the match.”
Indian journalist Karan Sethi added: “Test cricket in India is the reason Test cricket is dying.”
The reaction from around the world became angrier and more incredulous as India imploded.
‘Test cricket is dying’: True cost of Indian farce
Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar says the conditions have “made a mockery of Test cricket”.
“The pitch makes all the difference if you want to watch good cricket. You must have wickets with even bounce so that both batters and bowlers get equal opportunity. If the ball turns from day one and first session itself and that too with uneven bounce, it makes a mockery of Test cricket,” Vengsarkar told PTI, according to india.com.
“It is important to get crowds back for Test cricket. You see that in England and Australia but unfortunately it is not happening in India. People will come back to Test cricket only if it is interesting. Nobody wants to see bowlers dominating the batters from first session itself.”
He was not the only one.
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