What is a slow outfield in the sport of cricket?

Cricket is played on a near circular field. According to the Marylebone Cricket Club’s laws of the game, a professional cricket field’s boundary cannot be more than 90 yards and no less than 65 yards from the centre of the pitch.

A cricket field is divided into two parts – the infield and the outfield. The infield has a fixed dimension of 30 yards from the centre of the pitch. The condition of the outfield in the context of the match is very crucial. Out of all the factors that are considered, dew, has the biggest role.

The dew is the most important factor to consider especially in a day-night match. Dew is formed when the temperature of the grass drops below a few point. This leads to an increase in the moisture content in the outfield.

The ball’s rolling on the grass leads to the ball getting wet, as a result of which it becomes difficult for the bowlers to grip the ball. The swing of the ball is restricted and batters can predict the trajectory of the ball better. However, batters who prefer to hit the ball by utilising the pace of the ball might struggle as the ball slows down in a slow outfield. On the other hand, batters who play powerful strokes would be at the greatest advantage.

Fielders can also struggle on a wet outfield as it hinders their movement. Moreover, taking a catch becomes a challenge as the ball is wet. Batters might also run between the wickets with an extra bit of caution. A fast outfield is seen occasionally in cricket. This usually happens when the outfield is such that a slope topography causes the ball to move faster. Matches played in temperate regions or that are completed during the day are more prone to fast outfields.

Before the match, captains assess the conditions and then opt to decide whether they should bat or bowl first after winning the toss. Thus, whether the outfield is slow or fast is decided by the dew.

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