Why have West Indies pitches slowed down?  A detailed Analysis before the ICC T20 World Cup 2024

As West Indies will be co-hosting the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup 2024 along with the USA, it is expected that the pitches will be slower and turn a bit due to the dry conditions on the surface. Consequently, the extremely hot weather in the West Indies makes the ball get rougher, which makes it advantageous for the spinners.

In contrast, the batters have enjoyed batting on flat tracks during the ongoing season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which poses the toughest challenges for them on the Caribbean pitches. Whereas, batsmen who follow the traditional approach of anchoring the innings before hammering at the final overs, can find an opportunity to score runs.

Even during the T20 World Cup 2010, the pitches in West Indies were slow and there wasn’t any possibility to witness many high-scoring contests. It’s time to delve deeper into the reasons to understand why the pitches are slower in the West Indies…

Expensive Ground Maintenance

The West Indies Cricket Board ensured to avoid the expensive maintenance required for the grounds as the fast-paced pitches require proper watering and rolling methods to keep the grass quality higher. As a result, the preparation period might take upto several months.

On the other hand, the slower pitches require less maintenance, eliminating the need for watering, rolling and several other tasks, unlike the flat and green pitches.

Cracks on Pitches: Soil Texture and Moisture

The cracks formed on the dry pitch surfaces favour spinners more rather than the pace bowlers and batters who can time bowl on such tracks with perfection will be considered as the prime choice in the playing XI.

Also, the soil texture and moisture can impact the nature of the pitch which can fluctuate the bounce and pace.

Lack of Premium Quality Fast Bowlers

The current generation of the West Indies bowlers wasn’t impressive with their fast bowling skills and have relied on the medium pacers in recent times, which makes the board members to continue hosting matches on a sluggish surface.

Challenges in Executing Strokes

Although the Caribbean surfaces don’t assist bowlers in taking many wickets, it can be a real test for batters to execute the perfect strokes. This is because the slowish surface and high humidity affect the power-hitting ability of any batsman.

Matches during the daytime

The timings of the matches will certainly play a major role in the pitch’s behaviour as a majority of matches will be played during the day, which proves to be beneficial for bowlers against in-form batters.

Providing a Balanced T20 Contest

The slow pitches ensure a balanced contest between a bowler and a batsman in a T20 cricket, which is one of the main reasons to increase competitiveness and reduce one-sided matches.

Altering a Batsman’s Temperament

Since 2021, the aggregate run rate has been 7.91, which shows the batsman’s control over their temperament and finding the conventional methods to score runs on a slow pitch.

In contrast, the present IPL run rate is 9.47, which is indeed the highest in the rich-cash league’s history and many 200+ runs are being scored on flat wickets in the ongoing season.

Middle Overs: The Toughest Period to control the pace

Indian cricketers like Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson and Axar Patel have learnt the toughest lesson of their lives that the middle overs in West Indies is the most challenging phase to tackle the pace. For instance, during the Indian tour of the West Indies in 2023, Hardik Pandya and Sanju Samson in the middle of the chase, were required to score 37 runs from 30 balls to win the first T20I match of the series. But, the Windies choked their chase and secured a 4-run victory against the visitors.

Considering another instance, where Hardik Pandya’s led side had the chance to win the fifth and final match of the T20I series by preventing the Windies from scoring 42 runs from the last 30 deliveries. However, the hosts were able to finish their chase comfortably with an 8-wicket win and 2 overs to spare, thereby clinching a victory in the 5-match T20I series by 3-2 against the men-in-blue.

Conclusion:

It becomes clear that the aggressive batting performance exhibited in the ongoing IPL 2024 season cannot be replicated in the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024 on the slow pitches in the West Indies. The batting side needs to follow a simple concept by including a batter who follows the old-school approach of stabilizing the innings and not playing too many risky shots. It becomes clear that an average score of 140 to 160 runs will be highly competitive in the Caribbean pitches for the forthcoming grand tournament and scoring 200+ runs is beyond expectations.

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