Cape Town - The controversial Wanderers pitch is off the hook … or at least in terms of dodging the surrender of lucrative upcoming international fixtures.
It was learnt on Tuesday that match referee Andy Pycroft, the former Zimbabwean international, has deemed the Bullring strip used for the closing South Africa v India Test match “poor” under a new pitch-monitoring system instituted from January 1.
That means the slapping of the venue with three demerit points - just shy of the next, and most serious tier possible, five points for “unfit” status.
Had the Wanderers earned that maximum score, it would have been in line for a one-year ban on major fixtures.
But the ground is effectively on a “suspended sentence”, given that collection of two further demerit points in the near future could yet mean the loss of games.
India won the eventful, dead-rubber Test by 63 runs after several periods during the match where the unpredictable bounce – causing several stoppages while batsmen got treated for body blows - gave rise to suggestions from several experts that the match should be abandoned, a massively rare step in Test cricket.
That the game was eventually completed possibly amounted to a saving grace for the famous Johannesburg venue in terms of the five-point threat.
Cricket South Africa have the right to appeal the ruling within two weeks, although it seems unlikely they will do so; CSA’s communications manager Altaaf Kazi has been approached for comment by Sport24.
As things stand, then, three lucrative remaining Wanderers matches this season can go ahead there as planned.
The Bullring hosts the fourth (“pink day”) one-day international against the Indians on February 10, the first Twenty20 international on February 18, as well as the fourth and final Test against Australia from March 30.
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