Cricket fans are spoiled in terms of how many venues across the globe they’re able to watch their sides compete in, with each one providing its own unique set of conditions and challenges to overcome. From the weather on the day to the state in which a pitch is in when the players take the field, understanding the conditions is one of the most vital parts of getting ahead of a Test series especially, but where are some of the hardest places in the world to win games of cricket? SinkorSwimSports lists our top five picks for you!
Cricket in England is known throughout the world for three distinct features: green pitches, hostile crowds, and an ever-present threat of a good rain delay. Thanks to the cooler climate and decent amount of rainfall even during the height of summer, batting is notoriously difficult for less experienced traveling sides especially, with greats of the game like Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli infamously struggling at times through their career against the swinging Duke’s ball.
Before their loss against New Zealand earlier this year, England hadn’t lost a Test series at home since 2014, with the likes of Australia, Pakistan, and India all experiencing the hostility of the Barmy Army in the stands over the years.
Lord’s has the history, Headingly has the legacy, Old Trafford and Edgbaston have the atmospheres and The Oval has the sights, all of which combine to create one of the hardest tours to get on top of.
Australia has garnered a reputation for breaking entire touring parties apart, forcing teams to grind through some of the most grueling and hostile conditions imaginable. The pitches, the support, and the nature of the Australian cricket team mean that only the steeliest and most determined of characters can step up against the pressure a tour down under brings with it.
Few places in the world have the palpable feeling of going to war more than Australia, with the relentless combination of big quick seam bowlers hitting the deck, slow wickets producing minefields of spin, and a home side capable of batting a team into the ground.
Boxing Day at the MCG in Melbourne remains the most iconic day in the cricket calendar, Perth, Adelaide and the Gabba are notoriously hard places to win matches, and the constant hostility put on traveling teams from opposition players and supporters help create atmospheres that few in the world enjoy playing in.
Nowhere in the world is cricket more fanatically followed than India. In almost every sense of religion across the country, the nation of over a billion strong idolize and worship their players in a truly unique way compared to the rest of the world, and the importance they put on winning at whatever cost cannot be overstated.
England learned firsthand how brutally quickly a series in India can be taken away from a touring party when the pressure is applied earlier this year, with the hosts providing some of the most hazardous pitches imaginable after they had slumped to a surprising 1-0 deficit in their series.
Pitches in India can start breaking up and offer something for spinners in all directions from the very first session to the very first day in a Test match, forcing touring parties into unfamiliar and very different ways of negotiating sessions from what they’re used to which, when coupled with a hostile atmosphere from stadiums packed to the rafters, make winning away in India one of the biggest achievements a team can possess.
Pakistan and the UAE
Pakistan has been playing the bulk of their home matches in the UAE ever since the 2009 targeted attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team, and for pushing touring parties into the absolute unknown, the change in locations brings with them a whole host of environmental challenges.
The conditions are far hotter and more humid than anywhere else on the planet, and are present from the first over of the day to the final one before the close, making days feel so much longer than other venues and presenting a serious grueling challenge for those in the field. Mental strength is vital when playing out in the desert, however, with wickets often tumbling in quick, destructive clusters.
Unlike other Test-playing venues around the world, the bulk of matches played in the UAE are held in the backdrop of an empty stadium, presenting an entirely new challenge in terms of the eerie atmosphere sapping away the motivation for visiting teams more used to having the roar of thousands of fans behind them.
Red Bulls, James Anderson and Christian Pulisic enthusiast. Still unsure how Wes Brown wrangled himself a Champions League medal – Premier League, Cricket and Major League Soccer contributor at SinkorSwimSports.