Ricky Ponting slams ‘substandard’ wicket as Sydney Thunder loses to Perth Scorchers

Alex Hales on his way to a half century for Sydney Thunder against Perth on Monday.

Alex Hales on his way to a half century for Sydney Thunder against Perth on Monday. Photo: AAP

Ricky Ponting has lashed the Sydney Showground wicket as “substandard” and questioned if Thunder should consider abandoning the stadium for Canberra after a low-scoring loss to Perth.

The Scorchers returned to the BBL’s top two with the seven-wicket win on Monday night, chasing down Thunder’s 8-137 with five balls to spare.

The result leaves Thunder needing results to fall in their favour to reach the finals, sitting in seventh on the ladder with three games to play.

But the major talking point remained the pitch, after Ashton Agar took 2-6 from four overs and Cooper Connolly 3-25 from his four.

Thunder spinner Tanveer Sangha also went for 14 from his four overs, and Chris Green 1-22 from 3.1.

Data from the Seven network showed an average spin of 3.9 degrees in the Scorchers’ bowling innings, well in excess of the 2.2-degree average across the BBL.

“We shouldn’t be seeing balls react like that in the BBL,” Ponting said in commentary.

“That’s unplayable. You can’t hit that.

“As far as I am concerned, this is substandard as far as BBL wickets are concerned.

“Yes, he has bowled beautifully, but you shouldn’t be able to turn the ball like that.”

Scorchers wicketkeeper Sam Whiteman also remarked it “looked like Chennai”, with Agar’s figures the second-most economical in BBL history.

The pitch is quickly becoming a problem for Cricket Australia, given the league is viewed as a gateway to the sport for youngsters.

In one of the most populated regions of Australia, the run-rate of 7.76 at the ground is lower than at any other major BBL stadium.

Only one score has been made over 160 in the past two seasons, where spin and off-pace deliveries have generally dominated.

So slow did things move in Thunder’s innings, the hosts scored only 19 runs in a six-over period late in the innings in front of a crowd of 8672.

Ponting even went as far as to question if Thunder should move to Canberra permanently given the state of the wicket, with the club already playing two games a season at Manuka Oval.

“The Sydney Thunder have been a struggling team for the last few years,” Ponting said.

“And how are you going to attract young players from around the team or overseas, if they’re going to be batting on a wicket like that?

“The Thunder for years have talked about how much they love playing in Canberra, maybe that’s a solution.

“They have some good young players in this squad, but they might not have them forever if the wicket continues to be this way.”

Alex Hales played a lone hand for Thunder, whacking three sixes over the legside in his 72 from 55 balls.

But he was also close to the biggest villain in Thunder’s innings, with three men run out at the other end.

Included in those was Test hopeful Cameron Bancroft, who hit a red ball-like innings of 12 off 19 balls.

In reply, Englishman Zak Crawley hit 58 from 56 balls to steer the Scorchers home.

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