Dean Jones. Photo: Vince Caligiuri
FORMER Australia star Dean Jones says young batsmen are getting no favours from curators around the country and that state sides should be docked Sheffield Shield points if they produce substandard pitches.
Jones was in Hobart late last week and saw a grassed wicket at Bellerive Oval that made life tough in the match between Tasmania and South Australia, which was over inside three days.
Ed Cowan, Ricky Ponting and Nathan Lyon all had little impact in their last game before the first Test against South Africa.
Cowan made six and 26, Lyon bowled only four overs for the game and Ponting made five in the Tigers' first innings before he was subbed out of the match because of hamstring soreness.
''Is it fair for Rick Ponting and Ed Cowan to go back and play for Tasmania when that pitch had grass on it that was six or seven millimetres long?'' Jones said.
''They'd be better off playing for their club sides.''
Jones said the Bellerive wicket was substandard and that pitches in Brisbane and Perth this season were also failing to encourage young batsmen, skippers to make decent declarations and aspiring spinners to get overs into their games.
He said Cricket Australia should appoint a pitch inspector to ensure there was the right balance in wickets, and give the official the power to strip sides of points if conditions were not good enough.
''The standard of first-class pitches around Australia needs to be questioned and Tasmania is right up there,'' Jones said. ''You can call them doctored or whatever, but that's not the standard of pitches that we need to produce young batsmen coming through.
''They're more worried about wins than producing Test players.
''The only way you're going to [prevent] it is if a pitch inspector comes in and docks them six points for having a substandard pitch. The one in Hobart was not up to the standards of Australian first-class cricket.''
After his Test debut last year, Cowan said playing on green tops in his adopted state had helped make him a much better player, but Jones said recent conditions were not good enough.
''He needs a score, he's fighting for his career at the moment,'' he said.
Jones said Australian pitches used to be too favourable towards batsmen but had since been skewed too heavily towards the ball, including in the Test matches in Hobart and Perth last summer, in which the bowlers dominated.