Gibson's message on pitch criticism: Toughen up!

2019-01-07 12:59
Ottis Gibson (Gallo)
Ottis Gibson (Gallo)

Cape Town - Suck it up, roll up your sleeves and be prepared to fight for your Test match runs. 

That is effectively Proteas coach Ottis Gibson's response to criticism that has been directed at the state of South African Test wickets over the last 12 months. 

Test cricket, Gibson says, has never been easy and batsmen have been taking shots to the body for decades on all sorts of surfaces. 

The Proteas cruised to their seventh home series win in a row on Sunday morning when they beat Pakistan by 9 wickets in the second Test at Newlands.  

The Test, as is often the case in South Africa these days, was not without controversy and Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur blasted the state of the wicket after play on day two, claiming it was not good enough to host Test cricket. 

Despite Arthur's criticism, no less than eight batsmen made scores of 50 or more while Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis top-scored with a gritty, patient 103

Arthur's concern centred around uneven bounce making life difficult for batters from as early as day one, and while Gibson acknowledged that the bounce was unpredictable, he was still somewhat puzzled by Arthur's comments. 

"I don't comment on other people's comments, but to make a comment like that when your team has only got four wickets on the day and a guy has scored a hundred seems a little bit strange," Gibson said.

"Mickey and I go way back to our days in Kimberley and we get on very well. I guess when you're behind the eight ball in a game like he was then you sort of want to deflect away from your team and that's the way to do it."

Arthur's comments came on a day where Pakistan had taken just four wickets as Du Plessis and Temba Bavuma (75) combined for a stand of 156

"Test cricket has always been that if you are prepared to bat long and stick it out and show some resilience, then you will score runs and earn the runs you score," Gibson added.

"Yes, the wicket was a little bit uneven and I'm not going to deny that, but Faf showed that you can still bat on it.

"I don't really subscribe to the fact that it was the worst pitch you've ever seen. We were in Sri Lanka not long ago (South Africa lost 2-0) and I can tell you that they were a lot worse than this, in my opinion."

But, how far is too far? Is there a line when it comes to preparing home wickets? Can they become too heavily one-sided to the point where the game becomes farcical? 

South Africa experienced what it was like to be on the receiving end of exactly that during their tour of India in 2015 when they were destroyed by the home spinners on wickets that certainly took conditions to the extreme.

"Every other country does it and therefore we will continue to do it until the ICC says to everybody that there is a standard pitch to prepare for Test cricket, and then everybody plays on it and it is a level playing field," Gibson added.

"At the moment, when you go away from home you take what you get. We did that in Sri Lanka and it wasn't nice or comfortable. We lost horribly and therefore when we play at home I think that conditions should favour us."

When pushed to respond on pitches resulting in length deliveries spitting up and striking batsmen, Gibson revealed his hardened approach to the game. 

"Guys have been hitting in Test cricket for years, off a length too, but they showed some character and courage and they stuck it out," he said.

"Faf got hit but he stuck it out and he got 100.

"The ICC is still the governing body for world cricket and if the ICC feels that it is leaning too heavily one way, then they must step in and give a standard pitch to expect across the world in Test cricket and then we play on that.

"I don't prepare the pitch, but we expect home pitches to favour our team."

When asked if he himself thought that the line was being crossed internationally when it came to preparing home strips, Gibson's short response spoke volumes. 

"No ... not yet," he offered. 

The third Test gets underway at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on January 11. 

Follow @LloydBurnard on Twitter ...

Read more on:    proteas  |  ottis gibson  |  cape town  |  cricket


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