India managed to level the Test series against South Africa, but that didn’t stop Rohit Sharma from going on a rant about pitches in the post-match press conference.
The victory, which came in five sessions which saw 33 wickets fall in stunning fashion, was followed by a miffed Rohit taking a swipe at the International Cricket Council (ICC) and match referees, alleging double standards in the rating of pitches.
The focal point of Rohit's criticism revolved around the pitch conditions, particularly the one in the Newlands Test match, which saw a finish in 107 overs, making it the shortest ever Test match by overs. The pitch, which heavily favored seam bowlers, came under scrutiny, leading Rohit to defend it vigorously.
Rohit Sharma retorts on criticism of Indian wickets
“I mean, we saw what happened in this match, how the pitch played and stuff like that,” Rohit remarked. “I honestly don't mind playing on pitches like this. As long as everyone keeps their mouth shut in India and don't talk too much about Indian pitches, honestly.”
Rohit's passionate defense of challenging pitches extended to the essence of Test cricket, emphasizing that players should embrace the challenge rather than complain. “Because you come here [in Test cricket] to challenge yourself,” he emphasized. “Yes, it is dangerous. It is challenging. So, and when people come to India, it is again pretty challenging as well.”
However, Rohit Sharma did not stop at the pitch conditions; he directed his criticism towards match referees and the ratings assigned to pitches, specifically during the 2023 World Cup held in India.
He asked some of the match referees “to keep their eye on how they rate pitches”. It was as good as an open challenge to give the Newlands pitch a severe rating after the inconsistent bounce made batting entirely reliant on luck.
Rohit also questioned the rating given to the World Cup final pitch, which was labeled as “below average” despite a batsman scoring a century on it. He urged the ICC and match referees to base their pitch ratings on objective observations rather than biased considerations.
“So I hope they keep their ears open, they keep their eyes open and look into those aspects of the game. Honestly, I'm all for pitches like this. We want to challenge playing on pitches like this. Uh, but all I want to say is be neutral.”
One of the key points of contention raised by Rohit Sharma was the perception that pitches in India, which tend to favor spin from the very beginning, are unfairly criticized compared to pitches that seam early on.
Rohit's outspoken criticism of pitch ratings and the ICC's approach highlights the ongoing debate surrounding the conditions in Test cricket, especially in this bowling friendly era.
As India celebrates their remarkable series-levelling victory against South Africa, it remains to be seen whether Rohit's call for neutrality and fairness in pitch assessments will lead to changes in the way pitches are rated in the future.
Immediate repercussions could include a poor rating for the Newlands pitch that witnessed the shortest Test match in terms of overs. But Rohit’s words also hinted at India hitting back at critics if they questioned the sub-continental wickets and with a series against England looming later this month, the debate could well be back again sooner rather than later.