Crio’s Q? – fair go!

Tracks, deck – what the Poms like to term “ground conditions” – have been hot topics lately.

Racing enthusiasts will nod knowingly. All Melbourne metropolitan courses came under fire for perceived “bias” which did not allow a fair chance to each horse. Leaders/lanes/swoopers…these are all patterns that the pros analyse to get an edge and owners and trainers have howled at what’s been dished up.

A broader question, of course, involves discerning what, in fact, is the appropriate condition in which to present a track – firm can be relabelled jarring; yielding can deteriorate to soft!

Pitch conditions are similarly widely criticised yet there’s also no broad agreement on a “perfect” deck. Modern meteorology, covers, the abolition of the rest day…all have impacted on the conditions presented to players – as has TV’s need for 5 days of plundering (and a final session home team result!).

India have just beaten South Africa inside 3 days on a “Bunsen”. South Africa are outraged. India vindicated. The pitch is a hot topic. Is it unfair or does it just expose flawed techniques amongst the modern flat-track bullies? The Proteas were mentally shot – they opened the batting with Philander in the 2nd dig and the Indian bowlers implied that the fragile minds and defences of their opponents played as much a part as the dusty chain. Here’s an interesting perspective:-

It gets back to the age old cry for a fair go – whatever that is. Athletes want conditions that allow them to showcase their skills, but many of us counter that this doesn’t necessarily mean that challenges shouldn’t be presented.

Golf is always facing this dilemma. Do you enjoy US “resort/target” play where 28 under wins or would you prefer the baffled bogeys of an Open layout?

Mostly the answer, as is so often the case in life, is “self-interest”. What suits my team/game/horse?

Variety, I believe, is the answer. Then skills are tested under different conditions and, presumably, the best will survive.

Comments please?


  1. 20 years ago there were some general truths. Australian pitches were hard and bounced. English wickets were greener and seamed. Asian wickets turned. Moonee Valley suited front runners. Flemington gave back markers a chance to balance up and get home.
    Not absolute truths (fuserium; unusual weather; rail out).
    Now that sport is a commodity rather than a contest; it is manipulated within an inch of its life (or any semblance of a reasonably fair contest). Quantity not quality.
    For all our griping about the fixture versus the ‘draw’, one of the sustaining values of AFL is its relatively even playing field. Cricket and racing have jumped the shark. Excellence is sporadically rewarded. The best in the circumstances wins more than the best.
    Caveat emptor. “The Joke” is common knowledge.
    An entertaining distraction not a competitive sport.

  2. The home team should be allowed to prepare whatever pitch they like, so long as they play in the nude.

  3. indoor stadiums such as Etihad break my heart. all stadia open to the weather and the weather gods

    I would play cricket in the rain. make teams adjust. it would be compelling. and fewer repeats of some Channel ( Kim Hughes-free highlight or other

  4. Australian Footy used to have the advantage of hugely varied ground sizes and conditions. It made for different strategies. Anyone who watches SANFL can see how the oval’s dimensions create a totally different gamestyle to the WAFL’s. It certainly took a different sort of midfielder to star in July at Moorabbin after a March at Waverley. Preferences? I reckon the little grounds of SANFL create some fabulous contests and more of the style I grew up watching.

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