Cape Town - There had been a feast of runs on the Newlands
pitch during the second Test between South Africa and England here at the time
of writing, but its suitability in “contest” terms has earned a green light
from Dave Richardson, chief executive of the International Cricket Council.
Asked to assess it by Sport24 also in his capacity as a
42-cap former Test wicketkeeper for the home country, Richardson said at a
breakfast briefing with selected domestic journalists on Tuesday: “I’ve only
really watched on television over the last few days, but from what I’ve seen it
is a good pitch.
“(It has) good bounce, carry ... consistent bounce, too.
“I’ve seen a few chances go down, (so) with good bowling you
can be successful. It allows stroke-play and seems a reasonably good surface to
Test pitches have been a strong debating point again after
the Proteas’ recent tour of India, where they were beaten 3-0 in a four-Test
series and the dusty, turning tracks earned condemnation from South African
critics in particular.
They were considered to hold too many unfair pitfalls for
batsmen and be overly conducive to spin bowling.
But if the Proteas come off a notably low-scoring tour of
India, the current Test at Newlands has provided an intriguing contrast, with
runs galore in each team’s first innings and double centuries for each of Ben
Stokes (England) and South Africa’s captain Hashim Amla.
The situation was enough to inspire certain scribes on the
Subcontinent to suggest that this Test was lopsidedly weighted in favour of
Sambit Bal, editor-in-chief of www.espncricinfo.com, for example, said
on Twitter during the third day’s play: “Bowlers have so far taken five wickets
for nearly 900 runs in Cape Town. Irrespective of the outcome, such pitches
make for terrible cricket.”
Richardson conceded that pitch preparation was a complex
issue: “It is going to be subjective ... I am also conscious that (it) is not
an exact science. They (curators) will get them wrong from time to time.
“But essentially for Test cricket in particular, the ICC’s
guidelines for a good pitch are one that provides bounce and pace (and) is
consistent for both teams.
“You want it to provide a fair balance between bat and ball,
whether with seam or spin, or both. We don’t want to see the bat dominating the
ball, or vice versa.
“We recognise that around the world you will get different
conditions and teams in some cases are going to play to their own strengths -
that’s not a bad thing provided that you keep the balance.
“We want to clamp down on surfaces that are no good for
Richardson said good-quality pitches aided spectator
“They allow for attacking captaincy; trying to take wickets
rather than just contain when you are bowling, plus (batsmen) scoring freely
when there is the chance - if you have a wicket that is too slow you can’t get
value for your shots (and) it is not good to watch.”
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