JOHANNESBURG – The Gauteng Cricket Board is confident that the Wanderers pitch for the fourth Test between South Africa and Australia will be up to ICC standards.
The Wanderers has three demerit points against it after the pitch for the third Test against India in January was deemed poor by match referee Andy Pycroft. The Zimbabwean will again be the head official for the fourth Test starting tomorrow, but GCB CEO Greg Fredericks is confident Pycroft will find everything in order as far as the surface is concerned.
“We can’t afford a repeat,” said Fredericks. “We’d be dead in the water. But we’ve had Cricket SA’s pitch consultant Hilbert Smith here the last couple of days and along with our head groundsman Bethuel Buthulezi, they’ve assured me we should have no worries.”
The demerit points following the Test against India will remain against the venue for five years and should it reach five points at any stage in that period, the ground won’t be allowed to host international matches for a period of 12 months.
Meanwhile, Fredericks said extra security would be on hand to monitor the crowd at the Wanderers following various incidents throughout the series in which supporters were thrown out of venues.
Wanderers crowds are notoriously boisterous, but given the kinds of incidents that have occurred throughout the series, Fredericks said it was only right that the GCB took precautions.
“We want people to come here and have a good time. I certainly don’t expect a Wanderers crowd to be quiet, we understand people will want to have a go at the Australian players, but we don’t want anything personal getting said, any bad language being used or any sort of aggression.
“There will be extra security around the players and also in the stands.”
At the last international match the venue hosted - a T20 game against India in February - Imran Tahir got involved in a heated verbal exchange with some spectators.
During the current series involving Australia, spectators were denied entry into Newlands and St George's Park for wearing inappropriate masks and T-shirts, while at Newlands one spectator in the Members Pavilion was thrown out after a verbal exchange with David Warner.
Fredericks said ticket sales for the match were very good, with more than 13 000 sold for the opening day. With the Test taking place over a weekend and with public holidays tomorrow and Monday, crowds over 10 000 per day are anticipated for the first four days of the match.