Faf insists: We don't ask for ridiculous pitches

2019-01-06 13:43
Faf du Plessis (Gallo)
Faf du Plessis (Gallo)

Cape Town - Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis insists that he and coach Ottis Gibson do not ask ground staff for anything "ridiculous" when preparing pitches for home Test matches. 

South Africa beat Pakistan by 9 wickets in the second Test at Newlands on Sunday morning, taking an unassailable 2-0 lead to win their seventh home Test series in a row. 

Under the Du Plessis/Gibson era, which began when the West Indian took the reins in August 2017, there has been a spotlight on South African Test wickets. 

That conversation reached boiling point in last year's home series against India when the third Test at the disastrous Wanderers strip very nearly saw the match called off because of its uneven and unpredictable bounce. 

After day two at Newlands on Friday, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur took the issue even further by slamming the pitches in Cape Town and Centurion (the venue for the first Test) by saying that they were not up to Test match standards. 

The bounce in Cape Town was uneven at times, but that didn't stop Du Plessis from carding a century on day two while there were no less than seven other scores of over 50 in the match. 

"We never ask for ridiculous pitches. We just ask for pace and bounce," Du Plessis told media on Sunday morning after the win.

"You have to adapt your game and Temba (Bavuma) was a great example. In two Test matches in a row now on tough pitches he has scored runs and it shows you that it is possible if you apply yourself mentally and you have a technique."

Bavuma scored a fighting 53 at Centurion while, in Cape Town, his 75 in a 156-run partnership with Du Plessis effectively batted Pakistan out of the series. 

Du Plessis does not think that he and Gibson place more emphasis on pitch preparation than any of their predecessors. 

"I think maybe we just speak about it more openly than you possibly would have heard about in the past," he said.

"Our question to any groundsman is always if the pitch has pace and bounce … that's always what we ask for.

"We don't ask for anything more than that. 

"Everyone expected this wicket to get worse because of the cracks, but it actually got better."

Du Plessis also opened up on the current state of Test cricket, saying that the fact that matches were moving faster than they were contributing to an increased focus on wickets.

"Cricket is not the same as it used to be a few years ago when there were 400s and 500s being scored all at the time," he said.

"In South Africa the ball does move and there are seam-friendly pitches.

"The pace of the game has become a lot quicker and batsmen are not just going at 2 or 2.5 an over.

"Test matches are moving so quickly and as a player you have to move with it."

The series now moves to the Wanderers for the third Test, which gets underway on January 11, and there will no doubt be further discussion about the surface. 

"I haven't seen the pitch (at the Wanderers). The nice thing is that we have a few extra days for the bowlers to have their feet up. 

"Once we get to Joburg, we have to see what the pitch looks like. I haven't seen it since the T20 league where it was dry and had a lot of cracks. It'll be interesting to see if it's changed at all."

Read more on:    proteas  |  faf du plessis  |  cape town  |  cricket


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