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Typical excuses!

Updated on: 07 January,2024 07:05 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Sunil Gavaskar |

During the pitch report for TV on Day Two of the second Test, Shaun Pollock said the curator got it wrong

Typical excuses!

India pacer Jasprit Bumrah celebrates the dismissal of South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj in Cape Town on Thursday. Pic/Getty Images

Sunil GavaskarIt will be most interesting to see what the Newlands pitch is rated after what turned out to be the shortest Test match ever. It would be even more interesting to see what rating the pitch at Centurion, where the first Test was played, would get. 

Yes, there were two hundreds scored on that surface, but the way the ball regularly shot up from a good length, was alarming indeed.

I have always maintained that a pitch where a batter is physically threatened is far more dangerous than a pitch where only the batters reputation is under threat.

During the pitch report for TV on Day Two of the second Test, Shaun Pollock, the former South African skipper, said the curator got it wrong. This was exactly what was said about the Brisbane pitch in 2022 when Australia and South Africa played a match where those watching had their hearts in the mouth, fearing an injury to a batter. 

The excuse suggests that there was no intention to prepare a pitch like that, but it happened because either too much grass was left on the surface or there was too much watering done which didn’t dry out enough. The fact is that after India’s defeat in three days,  the message had gone out to the curator that a grassy pitch was needed for South Africa to wrap up another series win over India. 

What would have encouraged the thought is the insipid bowling by the Indians in the first Test who looked short of quality match practice, allowing the Proteas to get over 400 runs. So preparing another grassy pitch shouldn’t be a worry for the South African batters. Sadly for the home team, the Indian bowlers had realised their errors and Mohd Siraj in particular allowed the pitch to do its bit as he bagged six wickets to skittle South Africa out for 55.

Not enough runs for SA

Unless the South Africans dismissed India for a similar low score, they were never going to make a comeback and despite Aiden Markram’s combative century in the second innings, they simply didn’t have enough runs on the board to challenge the Indians. 

These kind of excuses that the curator got it wrong is typical of the SENA countries. When our curators make a dry pitch then it’s ‘chicanery’ as a former Australian skipper said last year after the Aussies had been walloped in the first two Test matches. So our groundsmen do it deliberately, but their groundsmen just get it wrong. It’s like before the third country umpires came in, where decisions by their umpires were excused as ‘human error’ while our umpires were cheats and ‘Delhi Butchers’ and all such derogatory headlines.

In about three weeks time another Test series starts with a country that has the biggest whingeing and moaning media in sport. Anything that doesn’t suit their team will be criticised and allegations will fly thick and fast.  

Rohit was spot on 

The Indian skipper Rohit Sharma was spot on when he said after the quick finish in the second Test that he doesn’t mind playing on pitches like the one dished out there as it’s a challenge to play on surfaces different from home. 

He also said that please don’t start questioning the pitch when the ball starts turning on Day One in India. Of course, he is asking for the impossible because as we have seen ever since India became a power in the sport and rightfully began to assert itself in the ICC boardrooms, there has been a concerted effort to denigrate it by those from the Old Powers. They arrive with an agenda and come what may, will dish out stories for getting the brownie points at home. 

It would be wonderful if our media rises to the challenge and takes them on word for word. That would be a clash to enjoy as thoroughly as the one that will unfold on the ground.

Is that too much to hope for? We shall soon find out.

Professional Management Group

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