Mark Waugh blasts India over fourth Test pitch controversy: 'Not on'

The Aussie cricket great has called for action to be taken after fresh drama surrounding the pitch.

Mark Waugh, pictured here alongside Steve Smith inspecting the pitch.
Mark Waugh has slammed curators for preparing more than one pitch for the fourth Test. Image: Getty

Aussie cricket great Mark Waugh has taken aim at curators for the fourth Test in Ahmedabad after multiple pitches were prepared for the series finale. The Aussies were left flummoxed when they arrived at the ground on Tuesday and saw that two pitches had covers on them.

It later emerged that curators were preparing three pitches that could have been used for the match, and it was only revealed on the day of the game which one had been chosen. Australia's stand-in captain Steve Smith said he'd never not known which pitch would be used so close to a Test match, and Waugh called for action to be taken on Thursday.

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“This is not on,” Waugh said on Fox Sports. “I don’t know how you don’t know what pitch you’re playing on.

“In Australia, I think the groundsman and curators are told months in advance, so they set up the pitch for the camera, the site-screen, the spectators. But in India, it’s different.

“It’s a bit like county cricket. You used to turn up to county grounds and there would be three pitches prepared depending on who turned up for the opposition side, then they would decide. I don’t know what’s going on here but I think something needs to be done about this.”

Former Test wicket-keeper Brad Haddin agreed that the ICC should “have a close look at it” and suggested India had been thrown a curveball when Australia won the second Test. The pitches for the first three matches of the series were dry and dusty and produced spin and uneven bounce from the first ball.

India won the first two Tests convincingly, but the pitch for the third Test backfired on them and Australia won via some brilliant bowling from Nathan Lyon. India captain Rohit Sharma admitted before the third Test that they were considering asking for a green pitch for the fourth match so they could prepare for the World Test Championship final in June at The Oval.

Steve Smith, Scott Boland and Todd Murphy, pictured here inspecting the pitch prior to the fourth Test between Australia and India.
Steve Smith, Scott Boland and Todd Murphy inspect the pitch prior to the fourth Test between Australia and India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

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But Australia's victory in the third Test left India still needing one more win to qualify, and Haddin believes they might have 'panicked'. “If you go back to the last Test match, just before the Test, Rohit Sharma said, ‘I would like the next wicket to be a green wicket, get us ready for the Test championship,’” Haddin said.

“But Australia didn’t read that script, they won the Test match. I just think they prepared that wicket thinking Australia were going to lose that Test match, then all of a sudden panicked, and now they had to go back to a traditional Indian wicket.”

The pitch that was eventually picked for the fourth Test appears nothing like the three that preceded it, with batting much easier on the opening day on Thursday. Usman Khawaja made a brilliant unbeaten century as Australia went to stumps at 4-255, with the bowlers made to work much harder to get any assistance from the pitch.

Cameron Green also batted superbly, finishing on 49 not out at the close of play. Khawaja and Smith became the first pair from either team to bat through an entire session during this series, but Smith (38) and Peter Handscomb (17) fell in quick succession after tea. Khawaja and Green then steadied the ship for Australia to give the tourists the advantage heading into day two.

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