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* To try and improve overall standards
* Identify clubs that don't meet these standards
* Expert Advice and Education available to these clubs
*Your mark is important

Make theses points

* Important that clubs playing Premier league cricket provide good pitches and they should recognise this

* Clubs that produce poor pitches have access to advice from the ECB County Pitch Adviser network and the County Groundsman Association

* Pitch marking aims to improve the quality of pitches in premier leagues, and the role of umpires in this process is very important

* Identifying poor pitches allows the league management committees to recognise clubs that are playing on underperforming pitches and take action - it is not meant to be used a stick to beat the clubs but as a support mechanism to assist the clubs by offering them help in pitch management

* Ultimately however continuing poor performance may result in a loss of points or even demotion from the premier league


* The most important duty is marking the playing pitch

* The game of cricket is dependent on the quality of the playing surface, particularly the pitch, more so than perhaps any other sport. Good cricket can only be played and learned on pitches that are safe and provide consistent bounce and pace to provide an equal contest between bat and ball - and lively entertainment for spectators."


* Ask Umpires to define a "good pitch"

* Remember we are talking about a one day premier league pitch

* Is it "Flat? one - i.e. where runs are easy to score?

* Is one that "does a bit? - i.e. is helpful to the bowler (seamer or spinner)?


* One that provided fair competition between bat and ball

* Where Batsmen can trust the bounce and pace and play their shots,

* And good bowlers can get some encouragement be they seamers or spinners (normally later in the game)

* Outfield should be neatly cut and striped

* Not all Premier leagues mark outfields

* Ball should be able to run true and the outfield should be free of holes, ruts or other obstructions that might pose a hazard to fielders.

* The outfield should be well maintained and adequately drained

* It should be closely mown with no noticeable grass cuttings

* Possible issue for umpires will be:

* Wet spots

* Rabbit scrapes that may cause fielders to trip

* Damage caused by other means - e.g. vandalism, broken glass, dogs mess

* Consider modern fielding techniques where fielders slide (baseball style)

* Outfield closely mown

* No noticeable weeds or cuttings

* Here the grass cutting is poor and large amounts of clippings have been left on the surface - can be common on council maintained grounds where cutting frequencies are low

* Small hollows on surface may be caused by rabbit scrapes and be serious enough to create a problem for the fielders

* Problems often occur where outfields are overplayed during the winter with football/rugby and then not renovated after the season thus causing a bumpy and maybe dangerous surface

* Boundary clearly defined

Premier Leagues

The boundary should be clearly marked by rope or a white line with markers approximately 20 yards apart. Alternatively where a gutter is used the edge shall be cleanly cut; if a picket fence or advertising boards form part of the boundary they shall be secure and in good conditions. No boundary shall be less that 50 yards or more than 90 yards from the nearer middle stump on the match pitch unless explicit dispensation is given by the League Management Committee

The Square
* Close neat straight stripes
* Some repairs to ends expected
* These should not be marked down

* An attractive scene - first impressions are very important to everyone

* Players

* Officials

* Spectators

* A well presented ground, with the playing area clearly marked out accurately and accordance with laws of the game, will make everyone involved in the game feel good.

The Square
* Looks poor - Causes wear on the ball

Pitches showing bare ends and worn areas on the pitch not repaired or overseeded after previous matches

The Pitch
Good even covering of grass - Close cut 3 - 6mm

White or straw coloured, should not be marked down if greenish Pitch should be dry at start of a one day match

A well prepared pitch suitably dry, showing uniformity of grass cover, good colour
The pitch has been well prepared, marked out correctly and, apart from pitching the stumps, and removing the covers, is ready for play

Close UP

A close up view of a well prepared pitch - dry, firm with little green grass

* Used Pitch - * Foot holes filled and level

* Provided rest of pitch has good grass cover, should not be marked down

* Make the point that, as the season progresses, it is likely that used pitches will be need to be brought back into play

* With good maintenance and post match repair this should not cause a problem

* This slide shows bowlers footholds repaired after the game - all that is needed now is re-marking

* Badly cracked poor grass coverage

* Cracked pitches do not always mean the pitch will be inconsistent

* Inconsistent bounce is often attributed to a cracking of the soil and many players assume that a pitch with visible cracks will have inconsistent bounce - therefore it is incumbent on umpires not to pre-judge a cracked pitch, but mark it as it plays

* Whilst pitches with visible cracks may have inconsistent bounce, the cracks themselves are not the cause of the problem. In virtually all cases on well maintained and well prepared pitches inconsistency in bounce is due to the occurrence of one or more horizontal breaks in the soil which prevent cohesion with depth. In these situations the topsoil comprises a series of slices or layers rather than a coherent block.

* When cracking to become so severe that the blocks become unstable then some inconsistency is likely.

* Grass along cracks - Poor coverage on the plates

Inconsistent pace and bounce

* The four key playing characteristics described by Prof Bill Adams and colleagues in the ECB publication "Pitch properties and performance" are:

* Consistency,

* Pace & Carry,

* Bounce,

* Turn

* They can of course change during the duration of the match depending on:

* Age of ball

* Weather conditions

* Deterioration and/or changing moisture levels in the pitch

* With time, normally consistency of bounce would be expected to reduce, and spin increase

* Pitch markings clear and correct
* Lines min 1/2" (12mm) max 1" (25mm) width
* Stumps should be set on back edge of line

Groundsmen do not always pitch the stumps correctly on the back edge of the line - sometimes they are placed in the MIDDLE of the line

* Width of lines should be between 12 -25mm - no more than 1 inch

* Where line markings are incorrect, a quite word with the groundsman may be in order - refer also to the ECB TS4 publication - the diagrams on pages 61 and 62 clearly show the positioning of the stumps on the bowling crease (Law 9.2)

* Mid to stump high off a length

* Excessive bounce pitched in the same area

* Umpires? reports suggest that consistency of bounce is the most valued characteristic in a pitch - refer "Pitch Properties and Performance?

* Other properties that influence umpires? ratings are:

* uniformity of grass cover,

* high bounce and carry,

* pitch dryness

* development of turn later in the match This slide shows bounce from the side view (strikers end) Although the bounce may be low on some pitches - it can still be consistent

* Can be a result of the pitch - which should normally be consistent throughout the match

* As the pitch dries bounce may vary

* As the ball gets older and softer so the bounce will reduce

* If a fast bowler bowls a slower ball
* It will not carry as far
* Good pace good carry
Slow pace poor carry

Pace is the degree to which a ball is slowed on impact with the pitch

* Research has shown that umpires are unable to compare the pace of pitches directly, and umpires? assessments of pace are based primarily on "ball carry?. This conclusion is drawn from the observation that umpires? assessments of bounce and pace are correlated with each other.

* Worth mentioning that PACE is not a category included in the pitch marking form as pace cannot be assessed with accuracy by umpires

* Results from reported research (Pitch Properties and Performance) suggest the ball will slow between 93 & 85% on pitching

* Some batmen describe bowlers who appear to generate "pace off the pitch" - This a subjective statement and will be influenced by the skill and action of the bowler

* This is impossible due to friction which will slow the ball down to a greater or lesser degree when it bounces on the pitch surface

* The greater the friction the more the ball will lose pace on contact with the pitch Pace is influenced by:

* Soil moisture

* Newness/hardness of the ball

* Pitch hardness - ability of the pitch to "deform? under impact

* Grass cover and leaf colour - fresh green leaf will reduce friction - hence green pitch may be called a "seamers pitch?

* Bowler trajectory - a low trajectory delivery may after bouncing, appear to "hurry on? to the bat

* Good carry - Red line - where the ball normally "thumps? into the keepers gloves and keeper/slips will need to stand farther back

* Poor carry - falling short of the keeper - blue line - requiring the keeper/slips to stand closer

* Excessive movement and spin
* Consider the ability of the bowler

* Marking "spin" or "turn" is the most controversial section of the form

* Desirable that pitches should begin to take spin as matches progress because it increases the range of bowling talents that can be exploited.

* A bare or lightly grassed pitch surface has a greater friction with the ball than a tightly grassed surface but the difference is not large.

* Tightness of grass cover is probably not of direct importance to turn - but the surface of pitches with light cover is more likely to become damaged by wear so there is an indirect effect.

* Superficial surface damage is the key to increasing turn

* Because good spin bowers at Premier league level will turn the ball - it does necessarily indicate a poor pitch. Bowlers vary in their ability to impart spin onto the ball

* Pitch dryness will provide more friction to the ball = more turn

* Spin bowlers look for pace and good bounce to help them take wickets

* A damp surface will normally encourage a loopy and slow bounce, and the ball will "bite" - but such pitches are normally slow

* So much so that the game become unfair and may lead to injury

Excessive means "To Much"

Mark how it plays not how it looks

* Movement off the seam can be difficult to mark!
The key issue here is that any movement of the ball should be as a result of the quality of the bowler. Always take into consideration the newness of the ball, any slope across the pitch, and prevailing atmospheric conditions. All of these factors may influence the amount of movement.

It.s usual for the new ball to move around at the start of play. At Premier league level good opening bowlers using a new ball will get movement in the air and off the seam, especially in English conditions. But this will usually reduce as the ball gets older and softer, and the shine goes.

The pitch may even have a slope across the line of play that can influence sideways movement.

Skilled spinners can turn the ball even on a flat surface, and as it wears they will gain extra friction to help the ball bite and turn.

These factors don.t necessarily mean the pitch is poor in any way or that it should be marked down. There is nothing wrong with a pitch that affords some degree of turn. It is impossible to quantify the amount that a ball is "allowed¡" to turn as bowlers will turn the ball differing amounts. In no circumstances should the pitch .'explode'.

The "Doctored" Pitch

* There have been comments by Umpires that some pitches may be 'Doctored' to assist the home bowlers

* Umpires can only mark the pitch as it plays

* Pitches consistently given poor marks should be investigated by the respective league

Marking Categories and Criteria

* Pitch marking aims to improve the quality of pitches in premier leagues, and the role of umpires in this process is very important

* By identifying poor pitches that allow the league management committees to identify clubs that are playing on underperforming pitches and take action –it is not meant to be used a stick to beat the clubs but as a support mechanism to assist the clubs by offering them help in pitch management

* Ultimately however continuing poor performance may result in a loss of points or even demotion from the premier league

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