To a musician, it means ‘the degree of highness or lowness of a tone’. To a physicist, it means ‘steepness of a slope’. To a baseball fan, it means ‘throw’. To a non-cricket fan watching cricket, it means the area on which the sport is played. To a cricket fan, it means something else altogether.
I’m talking, of course, about the pitch. I remember watching cricket with a friend who knew nothing about the game. He seemed pretty confused that the match started with a “Pitch Report”! I don’t believe any other sport does this, but for those of us who have been following cricket all our lives, we can’t fathom a match without a pitch report. Squad composition, set a target or chase, field placements, they all depend on the pitch.
A typical Indian pitch is known to crumble easily; it favours the batsmen early on, and by day 3 is a spinner’s paradise. It’s part of the reason the Ashwin-Jadeja combination has been lethal at home in the past 2 years. We have previously defended pitches which turn earlier than day 3. Rajkot was something else.