South Africa v India Tests

'We're human beings': SA star slams pitch

Opener Dean Elgar said players were in serious danger on Wanderers pitch after third Test came to a close

AFP

28 January 2018, 11:32 AM

India conquer SA to secure No.1 ranking

South African batsman Dean Elgar said the Wanderers pitch used for the third final Test against India was a "freak" that posed physical danger and could have caused serious injury or even death.

After battling for close on six hours to make 86 not out in South Africa’s 63-run defeat, the opening batsman said the umpires would have been justified in calling off the match when several balls behaved unpredictably on Friday.

Stumps called early on 'dangerous' Wanderers pitch

Elgar was hit on the grille of his helmet late on Friday, prompting the umpires, in consultation with match referee Andy Pycroft, to halt play shortly before the scheduled close.

After meeting with both captains, the match officials decided play would resume on Saturday.

South Africa, 1-17 overnight, were bowled out for 177 but Elgar remained unbeaten, the first South African to carry his bat twice through a completed Test innings.

Referring to the incident that led to the death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes in 2014, Elgar said: "We had an incident of being hit in the head, where we could have had an incident of what happened in Australia. People want to watch Test cricket but we are also human beings - the situation could have been addressed earlier."

Proteas set tough target on spicy pitch

Elgar said the ball which reared up into his face was "a freak moment" and said he did not believe he could have played it any better. He pointed out that it was on a day when "batsmen got hit a hell of a lot of times."

During the course of Friday’s play, former international players Michael Holding and Kepler Wessels raised the possibility of the match being abandoned but they agreed that if it was to happen it should have been before India completed their second innings.

Despite no repairs being done to the pitch, it appeared to have flattened out to some extent on Saturday, although it remained difficult for batsmen.

The match had resumed on the fourth day despite play finishing early on Friday due to the dangerous conditions.

"The on-field umpires, in consultation with the match referee, and after speaking with both the captains and groundsmen, have decided that the Johannesburg Test will resume on time on Saturday," said an International Cricket Council statement.

Bowlers dominate in epic Proteas v India clash

Umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould, in consultation with match referee Andy Pycroft, took the players off the field earlier than scheduled on the third day after Elgar was hit on the helmet.

The pitch had come under severe scrutiny over the first three days with a series of batsmen taking hits.

There had been several discussions between the umpires earlier in the day because of unusual bounce and deviation on a pitch which former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar described as "dangerous".

Both captains were called into a meeting with Pycroft and the umpires in accordance with ICC regulations.

Only two Test matches have previously been abandoned because of dangerous conditions.

In January 1998, England were 3-17 against the West Indies at Sabina Park in Jamaica when the umpires stopped play because of a hazardous pitch.

And a match between the same two teams in Antigua in February 2009 was called off after 10 balls because a soft outfield was regarded as dangerous for bowlers and fielders.

Former international players in the SuperSport television commentary box were critical of the pitch earlier.

"It’s almost an accident waiting to happen," said former South African captain Wessels.

Ex-West Indies fast bowler Holding recalled the infamous 1998 Test in Jamaica, saying: "That was a total fiasco, this isn’t far off".

Qantas tour of South Africa

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Jackson Bird, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc.

Warm-up match v SA Invitational XI, Sahara Park, Benoni, Feb 22-24

First Test Kingsmead, Durban, March 1-5

Second Test St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, March 9-13

Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26

Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3