CommBank Test Series v India
I felt like a bowling machine: Harris
Paceman, Rogers disappointed with placid pitches in Australia-India Test series
13 January 2015, 11:13 AM AEST
Australia players Ryan Harris and Chris Rogers have spoken out about the flat nature of the pitches throughout the Commonwealth Bank Test series against India this summer.
Harris said he felt at times as though he was little more than “a bowling machine” on the batsman-friendly decks that saw opposing captains Steve Smith and Virat Kohli break all sorts of long-standing records.
“The disappointing thing about the wickets we played on this summer, they were just so flat,” Harris told SEN’s The Run Home program.
“As a bowler, and we spoke about it during the last Test just how disappointing (it is) not to get a nice wicket, not so much a bowler-friendly green top, but a wicket with a bit of bounce at least where you could bowl a good bouncer.
“The ball in that last test lasted probably 10 or 11 overs before it was soft and ragged and it was almost reversing.
“It was a challenge … but I like a bit more challenge between bat and ball.”
Chris Rogers was one of many batsmen who benefited from the favourable conditions // Getty Images
Rogers, who prospered with six consecutive scores of 50-plus to equal the Australian record, admitted the conditions most certainly favoured the batsmen.
“They probably weren’t ideal,” he told SEN’s Morning Glory program. “Even the batsman probably want a bit more pace, because the way we play – we play cuts and pulls and those kind of (shots).
“But it’s the Indian series, you want the games to go all five days.
“I mean the Sydney Test last year went for three days against England, and that didn’t go down well.
“They were always going to be a bit flatter this year, but it definitely didn’t help us.
“I know when we go to India we’re not expecting green tops, so it would’ve been nice for us to have a bit more bounce to help our bowlers, but that’s the way it goes.”
Harris wondered whether the nature of the pitches, which contrasted significantly with their traditional characteristics, was a result of specific instructions to curators from Cricket Australia in a bid to ensure the contests lasted the full five-day duration.
“I don’t know for sure if it was a Cricket Australia directive and if they wanted the games to go five days,” he said.
“Last year when England were here there were games that finished in three or four days and obviously the hierarchy, or whoever it is, may not have been happy but at the end of the day I think we just played really good cricket last year.
“I don’t want to come across like I am whinging but the series was dominated by the bat … (but) the wicket here in Brisbane was disappointing.
Harris was man of the match in Melbourne but couldn't get a win for Australia // Getty Images
“It just didn’t have that fast bounce that it normally has.
“Looking back I wish we had’ve gone to Perth. That is the wicket where you are going to get that good bouncy pace as a bowler.
“I don’t know at all who makes that decision, if decisions are made, if the curators are given those ‘reccies’.
“When teams come to Australia they don’t expect wickets like that. I spoke to umpire Richard Kettleborough on the last day at square leg and he said to me: ‘What’s going in with the wickets? This is not Australia’.”
One factor that may have hampered pitch preparation this summer was the rescheduling of the Tests, following the tragic passing of Phillip Hughes.
A CA Spokesperson confirmed that no directive had been given to curators in terms of making pitches more placid.
“The only direction we give curators around the country is to try and produce pitches that provide an even contest between bat and ball,” he said.
“At the same time, curators are encouraged to maintain the unique characteristics of the pitch itself.”
And while Australia won the series two-nil, Harris said India’s batsmen – three of whom scored one century, while Kohli scored four – profited from conditions that more closely resembled those found at their home venues.
“The India batsmen, who are so good on those lower and slower wickets, they were very hard to get out,” he added.
“It was a big challenge but I thought the bowlers did really well.
“I said to Shane Watson and Brad Haddin that I’d love to face myself on those wickets because I must feel like a bowling machine, but when you have (Mitch) Starc and (Josh) Hazlewood who were getting a bit more variable bounce, they were probably a bit more of a chance to get those wickets.
“When we had them six or seven down (in the drawn final Test) we thought we were a good chance but the new ball didn’t swing, it didn’t misbehave, the ball didn’t keep low or it didn’t really bounce.
“We tried our butts off and we got a lot closer (to winning) than a lot of people thought we would.”