SA v India pitch debacle: ICC’s Newlands sanction no surprise

Dean Elgar last Test for the Proteas was marred by the terrible Newlands pitch. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky / BackpagePix

Dean Elgar last Test for the Proteas was marred by the terrible Newlands pitch. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky / BackpagePix

Published Jan 11, 2024


As soon as Proteas Test batting coach Ashwell Prince submitted his diagnosis of the Newlands pitch for the second Test between South Africa and India, it was clear that a demerit point was inevitable for the Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA).

After 23 wickets fell on day one, former Western Province batter and coach Prince said, “Some of the things I’ve seen today, I’ve never seen at Newlands before”, and he went on to say, “If both line-ups can’t bat on the surface, that says a lot”.

There it was: Prince had given a hint to the WPCA to brace themselves for a low rating of the pitch from match referee Chris Broad, the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the two captains, Dean Elgar and Rohit Sharma.

On Tuesday, the ICC rated the Newlands pitch as “unsatisfactory”, saying match Broad’s report expressed “the concerns of the match officials and … captains Elgar and Sharma, both of whom felt that the pitch was below standard”.

The main concerns were the uneven bounce and the quickness of the surface on the opening day of the Test match, which only worsened on day two, where 10 more wickets fell before the conclusion of the second session.

Ultimately, the match was decided in less than two days, lasting only 107 overs and making it the shortest Test in the history of the longest format of the game as India won by seven wickets to square the two-match series.

Taking all of that into consideration, it comes as no surprise that the ICC handed the Newlands Cricket Ground one demerit point for the surface.

The massive Test was a series decider and Elgar’s farewell.

In response yesterday, the WPCA acknowledged the ICC’s assessment of the pitch and its pitch and outfield monitoring process.

“The WPCA is committed to upholding the highest standards of cricket and ensuring that the playing conditions at Newlands are of the highest possible quality,” read the association’s statement.

“We respect the concerns raised by the ICC match referee, Mr Chris Broad, and we take this feedback seriously.

“As a responsible cricketing body, we will work closely with Cricket South Africa (CSA) to review the match referee’s report thoroughly and identify all areas for improvement.

“The board of WPCA, with support from CSA, has committed itself to a comprehensive turnaround strategy to address the recent misfortunes at WPCA, which includes restoring Newlands Cricket Ground to its former glory.

“We appreciate the feedback we have received from our various stakeholders. WPCA is committed to addressing the concerns they have raised, and we remain dedicated to providing an excellent cricketing experience for players and fans alike at Newlands.”

Should the Newlands Cricket Ground accumulate five more demerit points in the next five years, the iconic stadium will be banned from hosting international cricket for 12 months.