ICC rates Newlands pitch as unsatisfactory after shortest-ever Test in history

India defeated the hosts by seven wickets in the match, which turned out to be the shortest-ever in the history of Test cricket

Published - January 09, 2024 05:04 pm IST - Dubai

Indian cricket team head coach Rahul Dravid inspects the pitch during a practice session ahead of the second Test match between India and South Africa, at Newlands Cricket Ground, in Cape Town, South Africa, on January 1, 2024.

Indian cricket team head coach Rahul Dravid inspects the pitch during a practice session ahead of the second Test match between India and South Africa, at Newlands Cricket Ground, in Cape Town, South Africa, on January 1, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

The International Cricket Council (ICC) on January 9 rated the Newlands pitch for the second Test between India and South Africa as "unsatisfactory" after it ended inside five sessions.

India defeated the hosts by seven wickets in the match, which turned out to be the shortest-ever in the history of Test cricket. The victory allowed India to draw the two-match series 1-1.

Also read: Subcontinent pitches rated sub-par more often, yet Test matches end faster everywhere | Data

The decision was made under the ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process. Only 642 balls could be bowled in the match.

"The pitch in Newlands was very difficult to bat on. The ball bounced quickly and sometimes alarmingly throughout the match, making it difficult to play shots," said Chris Broad, the match referee for the Test, in his report submitted to the ICC.

"Several batters were hit on the gloves and many wickets also fell due to the awkward bounce," Broad further wrote.

Subsequently, the Newlands was awarded one demerit point. One demerit point is awarded to venues whose pitches and outfields are rated by the match referee as unsatisfactory.

Cricket South Africa have 14 days to appeal against the sanction.

If a venue reaches six demerit points, it is suspended from hosting any international cricket for 12 months. The penalty is 24 months in case of 12 demerit points.

These points remain active for a rolling five-year period.

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma was exceptionally vocal in his criticism of the Newlands surface.

"We saw what happened in this match, how the pitch played. I don't mind playing on pitches like this. As long as everyone keeps their mouth shut in India and don't talk too much about Indian pitches," Rohit had told reporters in his post-match press meet.

"Because you come to Test cricket to challenge yourself. Yes, it is dangerous. It is challenging. So, and when people come to India, it is again pretty challenging as well.

If the pitch starts turning (in India), people start talking about 'Puff of dust! Puff of dust!' There's so much crack here (Newlands) on the pitch," he added.

Even South African coach Shukri Conrad was citical of the Cape Town track.

"I don't know what people want me to say. You only need to look at the scores. 1.5-day Test match! You need to look at how they chased 80 (79). It's a sad state when you need more luck than skill. All the ethics and values of Test cricket go out the window," Conrad had said.

However, all of it would not take any sheen out of an Indian victory on which pacers Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah came up with splendid spells.

Siraj's six for 15 skittled South Africa for 55 in their first innings, while India managed a 98-run lead on the back of their 153.

A brilliant counter-attacking hundred from Aiden Markram proved inadequate in the third innings as India were set a target of 79. Bumrah took six for 61 in the second Proteas innings.

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