Johannesburg - “You have to ask yourself the question: ‘is that a good advertisement for our format?’,” Dean Elgar inquired after a stunning conclusion to the first Test at the Gabba which ended in less than two days on Sunday.
The record shows South Africa lost by six wickets, but all the focus afterwards was on the surface, with Elgar admitting that he’d also asked the umpires - Chris Gaffney and Rod Tucker - whether the pitch could be deemed dangerous.
“Thirty four wickets in two days, a pretty one-sided affair, that leads into what everyone is thinking. I’m a purist, I want to see the game go to four or five days and the way, the nature of it, and how it played with some seriously steep bounce with the old ball, you are on a hiding to nothing as a batting unit,” said the South African captain.
“I did ask the umpires when KG (Kagiso Rabada) got (Travis) Head out down leg (in the second innings), how long does it go on for until potentially it is unsafe. I know the game was dead and buried, it was never to put a halt to the game. Maybe they felt I was trying to take the mickey, because there were only a handful of runs left to get. It’s not a bad reference point to get a reply. There wasn’t a reply.”
That match lasted a total of 145.2 overs, making it the second shortest Test ever played in Australia. It will be up to the officials and match referee, Richie Richardson, to determine the standard of the pitch.
Pitches for every international match are rated, with negative ratings resulting in demerit points, the accumulation of which could lead to a suspension of staging rights.
The International Cricket Council deemed the Rawalpindi pitch that hosted the first Test between England and Pakistan recently as “below average” because it provided “almost no assistance to any type of bowler”, it will be interesting to see what their assessment is of the Gabba.
“I don’t think it was a fair contest,” Elgar had said in a television interview.
It was difficult to tell the difference between the strip and the rest of the outfield, particularly on day one, and the divots caused by the ball pitching on a soft surface at the start of the match, had hardened on day two, which added to the challenges faced by batters on both sides.
“It was not ideal,” Marnus Labuschagne, who plays regularly at the Gabba for Queensland, said in an interview with SuperSport. “You want these two teams to compete for four or five days, it's that endurance battle, a chess game, which is what you want out there.”
“Unfortunately when the wicket is like this it becomes a bit of a lottery,” Labuschagne added.
Elgar didn’t feel his under-fire batting unit - which has now gone three consecutive Tests without breaching the 200-run mark in an innings - should feel embarrassed by how they played.
“The guys have played enough cricket that this was one of those incidents where, let’s be real and honest about what has just happened. It’s not like the guys were throwing (their) wickets away, we were getting ‘jaffered’ out, they bowled properly,” said Elgar.