Match referee Andy Pycroft and the umpires; Aleem Dar and Ian Gould have told both captains in the third Test here that the pitch here is ‘safe’ for play.
Concerns have been raised, mostly by ex-players commentating on the match, that the pitch was ‘dangerous’ and in some instances concerns were raised that the match might be called off.
However that won’t be the case with Pycroft apparently assuring Gauteng Cricket Board that there was no problems with the pitch. The umpires also spoke to both captains, Virst Kohli and Faf du Plessis to assure them that there were no issues with the surface – only that it was challenging to bat on – during a brief impromptu discussion after Indian opener Murali Vijay had been struck on the hand by Kagiso Rabada.
It is understood, that Gould and Dar told the two skippers that the pitch, while difficult for batting, was not a danger to the batsmen. Both captains agreed with the assessment.
As the teams left the field for lunch, the umpires held a brief chat with groundsman Bethuel Buthelezi and advisor (and former curator at this venue) Chris Scott.
Commentators Kepler Wessels and Michael Holding described the pitch as dangerous, explaining that it favoured the seam bowlers too much.
“It's a s*** pitch,” said Holding.
“They should have called it off when Vijay got hit. This is not a cricket pitch, this is dangerous. Call it off, forget it. You can't play cricket on that. I have no idea what has gone wrong but I know it's not a good cricket pitch. The last time I saw something like this, the match was abandoned. In Jamaica 1998, and it didn't even last this long,” Holding added.
The former West Indies great was referencing the Test between England and West Indies at Sabina Park which was called off after 10.1 overs, with the pitch rated as too dangerous by the umpires.
“The unfortunate thing is that nobody minds movement of the surface but it's the uneven bounce that's the problem and it is quite dangerous from a batting point of view when you have pace attacks bowling around the 140 mark, tall bowlers hitting the deck hard,” said Wessels.
“It is dangerous and it's not ideal. I have seen pitches like this around the world but as we keep saying, you want a good contest between bat and ball and this one is not providing that. I'd give it a 3 out of 10.”