Ricky Ponting call rejected as Sydney Thunder captain shoots down BBL pitch criticism

Chris Green has spoken out after strong comments from the Aussie cricket legend about the Sydney Showground pitch.

Chris Green and Ricky Ponting.
Chris Green has rejected Ricky Ponting's call for the Sydney Thunder to move to Canberra. Image: Getty/AAP

Chris Green has dismissed suggestions from Ricky Ponting that the Sydney Thunder should move permanently to Canberra, while also playing down criticism of the pitch at Sydney Showground. The surface at the Thunder's home ground provided plenty of turn and made things extremely difficult for batting as the Perth Scorchers scored a seven-wicket win in the BBL on Monday night.

The Scorchers returned to the top two on the ladder, chasing down the Thunder's total of 8-137 with five balls to spare. But the major talking point from the match was the spin-friendly pitch, which helped Ashton Agar claim extraordinary figures of 2-6 from four overs.

NOT GOOD: Cameron Bancroft's claim about Aussie bowlers could cost him

'THE GOAT': Ellyse Perry lights up cricket world in 300th game for Australia

It marked the second-most economical four-over spell in BBL history, with Mitchell Johnson's 3-3 from 2017 the only spell better. Part-time spinner Cooper Connolly took 3-25 from his four overs, while Thunder spinner Tanveer Sangha only went for 14 from his four, and Green took 1-22 from 3.1.

Data from the Seven network showed deliveries had an average spin of 3.9 degrees during the Scorchers' bowling innings - well in excess of the 2.2-degree average across all other games in the BBL. Teams have an average run-rate of 7.76 at the Showground throughout the history of the BBL, which is lower than at any other major stadium used in the competition.

Only one score over 160 has been achieved in the past two seasons, with spin and off-pace deliveries generally dominating. The Thunder got so bogged down in their innings that they only managed 19 runs in a six-over period late in their 20 overs.

"We shouldn't be seeing balls react like that in the BBL," Ponting said in commentary for Channel 7 after one delivery from Sangha turned a mile. "That's unplayable, you can't hit that. As far as I am concerned, this is sub-standard as far as BBL wickets are concerned. Yes, he has bowled beautifully, but you shouldn't be able to turn the ball like that."

Scorchers wicket-keeper Sam Whiteman said it "looked like Chennai", while Ponting went as far as to say the Thunder should think about moving to Canberra permanently considering they already play two games a season at Manuka Oval. "The Sydney Thunder have been a struggling team for the last few years," Ponting said.

"And how are you going to attract young players from around the team or overseas, if they're going to be batting on a wicket like that? The Thunder for years have talked about how much they love playing in Canberra, maybe that's a solution. They have some good young players in this squad, but they might not have them forever if the wicket continues to be this way."

Matthew Gilkes, pictured here being bowled by Ashton Agar in the BBL.
Matthew Gilkes is bowled by Ashton Agar in the Sydney Thunder and Perth Scorchers clash in the BBL. (Photo by Jason McCawley - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Chris Green rejects call for Sydney Thunder to relocate

But Thunder captain Chris Green has rejected any suggestions the Thunder should leave the Showground for the national capital. "We're the Sydney Thunder, this is where we like to play. This is our home ground. This is where we're from, the west of Sydney," Green said.

"I'd hate to see us move down (to Canberra) permanently. I like staying at home, playing at home, having my family come and watch me play. This is our home base."

Chris Green, pictured here in action for the Sydney Thunder against the Perth Scorchers in the BBL.
Chris Green in action for the Sydney Thunder against the Perth Scorchers. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Green also denied claims the pitch at the Showground had been an issue for years, saying a spinning wicket offers variety to the competition. "This is better than a lot of wickets in the country. It's just about adapting to those conditions better," he said.

"We had a 200-game here last year (in the finals) and the rain ruined it. The Sixers game this year was a sellout, and the rain ruined it. If we scored 10 more runs or about five less wides tonight, it's probably going down to the last ball which is an entertaining fixture. So I disagree with those comments. We can't just roll out a belter of a wicket and have 220 plays 220, because that tests one side of skill - but this is another side of skill."

Agar also defended the ground staff after play. "I don't envy the groundsman, with conditions that were dished up. It poured down rain all day," he said. "Obviously the Big Bash is an entertaining game, and you want to see high scores and balls flying over the fence. But there's a lot to be learned from games like that. Things to be learned for guys who go overseas."

Most economical spells in BBL history:

  • Mitchell Johnson - 3-3 in 2017, WACA

  • Ashton Agar - 2-6 in 2024, Sydney Showground

  • Adam Milne - 1-6 in 2021, Adelaide Oval

  • Lasith Malinga - 6-7 in 2012, WACA

with AAP

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.