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Ken Borland


Structure in place for ICC to rate Gabba pitch, but Elgar makes sure his feelings are known

Posted on June 05, 2023 by Ken

The ICC do have a structure in place whereby the match referee rates the pitch for all international games, but Proteas captain Dean Elgar made sure his feelings were known about the Gabba snakepit as he said after South Africa’s six-wicket defeat in the first Test against Australia in Brisbane that it was not suitable for Test cricket.

Former West Indies captain Richie Richardson, the match referee on duty for the series, can rate the Gabba pitch as being ‘poor’ or ‘unfit’, which would lead to the International Cricket Council (ICC) requesting an explanation from Cricket Australia and possibly taking further action.

The general consensus on Sunday was that the grassy Brisbane pitch was very poor, with excessive sideways movement and inconsistent bounce, much of it steep from a good length. The Test was the second shortest since the Second World War and only the second two-day Test in Australia ever.

“For me, that’s not what Test cricket should look like. I would ask ‘Was it a good advert for the format?’ To have 34 wickets in two days means it was pretty one-sided towards the bowlers,” Elgar said after Australia had struggled to 35 for four to win, having bundled the Proteas out for just 99 earlier in the day.

“I’m a purist of this format and you want to see it go four or five days. But it was not a good Test pitch, there was some seriously steep bounce even with the old ball.

“When KG Rabada got Travis Head caught down the leg-side and Anrich Nortje was sending short ones over everyone’s heads, I asked the umpire when do they consider it dangerous? I didn’t get a reply, maybe they thought I was taking the mickey.

“The divots had a big role to play in the sideways movement, the up-and-down bounce, much of it steep. It was interesting to see how quickly the wicket started divoting,” Elgar said.

While the terrible pitch has taken some of the attention away from another poor batting performance by the Proteas, that is sure to come back under the microscope as the crucial second Test starting in Melbourne on Boxing Day gets closer. As captain of the good ship Proteas, Elgar needs to be shouting “Ahoy! There are rocky times ahead!”

But he, perhaps cleverly, pointed to the pitch as being the root of their problems.

“We need to be honest and realistic about what happened, we were absolutely jaffered out and they bowled properly,” Elgar said. “We were confident coming in to the game, we had practised bloody well. “We will now have some extra days to tap into our mental spaces. The biggest danger is to withdraw and not deal with what happened.

“I don’t see how hitting more balls is going to make us become better cricketers, we all know our games pretty well. It was just one of those games where we failed.

“Personally, I’m still confident going into the next Test, and you still want to give your batsmen confidence and positivity,” Elgar said.

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