Why Are Cricket Pitches Different Sizes?

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Did you know that there is no law in cricket for the size or shape of a cricket field? Or that the pitch is not always 22 yards long? How about the infamous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) only having the second largest ground capacity and the fourth largest boundary? Let’s have a look at the different sized playing areas that cricket uses.

Pitches, Squares, Fields, and Grounds!

The first issue to clarify is the difference between pitch, square, field, and ground.

The pitch is the (normally) 22-yard-long central area, which has the stumps and bails at each end.

The square is a group of adjacent pitches, of which only one will be in use for any game.

The field is the area inside the boundary rope, including the square, but excluding the pitch being used for play.

The ground is the total area where the match is being held, including the area outside the boundary rope.

It is quite normal to hear these terms being mixed up, especially by people new to the game. Go easy on them, it can be confusing at first!

Why do cricket grounds vary in size?

Cricket grounds are the element that vary the most in size, with factors such as physical land available and spectator capacity required. Grounds that host professional matches tend to be larger, as this will allow for more paying spectators to be accommodated. The Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, India boasts the largest capacity of any cricket ground, being able to host 132,000 spectators, and has a field size of 180 yards by 150 yards. To put this into perspective, the highest capacity sports stadium in Europe is Wembley, which hosts only 90,000 people with a relatively tiny 155 by 74-yard field!

Why do cricket fields vary in size?

Cricket is unusual for a major sport in that there are no laws governing the size of the field of play. The International Cricket Council (ICC) however defines playing conditions including the minimum and maximum size of the playing surface for international matches, including test, ODI and T20 formats.

19.1.3 The aim shall be to maximise the size of the playing area at each venue. With respect to the size of the boundaries, no boundary shall be longer than 90 yards (82.29 metres), and no boundary should be shorter than 65 yards (59.43 metres) from the centre of the pitch to be used.

The laws of cricket do define the role of the boundary, which should have a minimum of 3 yards between it and advertising hoarding or other fixtures, to reduce risk of player injury when diving for a ball. It is the umpires that determine the boundary of the field of play.

What size is a cricket pitch?

A standard size cricket pitch is 22 yards long. Why twenty-two? Before metric and indeed imperial measurements, such as yards, other units were used. In the seventeenth century, surveyors used a physical length of chain, with 100 links, as their method of reliable measurement. Being about the right length for the newly invented game of cricket, the pitch was defined as being one chain, or 22 yards!

Time, and millions of games of cricket later, it seems that 22 yards is an effective length for the men’s game, but is that the case for junior and women’s cricket? Research by Loughborough University looked at the effect on junior cricket of reducing pitch length. They discovered that reducing pitch length saw a 15% increase in playable deliveries and gave a more even distribution of fielding opportunities.

As a result of this and other research, the ECB has recommended shorter pitch lengths and boundary sizes for male and female junior cricket. It is possible that such research will also point the way to smaller pitches being used for adult female cricket, including first class and international matches, although no decision has been made at this time.

Keeping your cricket pitch, field and ground in the best of order.

Ground, fields, squares and even pitches come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing they have in common is the need to keep them in perfect condition, ready for match day. From Ormskirk to Wickford, Edgbaston to Lords, one thing the great cricket grounds have in common is their use of Auto-Roller’s range of rollers. World leading three and four feet rollers, for sale or hire, to keep your pitch, square, field and grounds as they should be. If we can help you maintain a perfect-pitch, we would love to hear from you.