ICC’s Richardson backs Newlands strip

2016-01-05 14:45
Dave Richardson (File)

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 me.”

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 batsmen.

Sambit Bal, editor-in-chief of, 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 anybody.”

Richardson said good-quality pitches aided spectator enjoyment.

“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.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    england  |  proteas  |  icc  |  dave richardson  |  cricket

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