‘Dangerous’ pitch stops South Africa vs India Test

Cracks in the Wanderers surface widened to cause inconsistent, exaggerated bounce and excessive seam movement. Play was called off because of a dangerous pitch at Wanderers Stadium on Friday after South African batsman Dean Elgar was hit on the helmet grille by a bouncer from India’s Jasprit Bumrah – the fourth blow he had suffered.

After the umpires and match referee conferred, play was ended for the day.

Earlier, players from both sides had been hit by rising deliveries, with India opener Murali Vijay struck five times in the first session alone.

Captains Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli were then called into a meeting with referee Andy Pycroft in accordance with International Cricket Council regulations.

Those ICC rules state play can resume if the captains agree but if not, the umpires – Pakistan’s Aleem Dar and England’s Ian Gould – and referee must decide whether it is possible to improve the playing conditions sufficiently for the Test to resume if that is not considered viable, the match can be abandoned.

Has this happened before?

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

Both came in the West Indies in matches against England, firstly in January 1998 when England were 17-3 at Sabina Park in Jamaica when the umpires deemed the pitch unsuitable.

Then in February 2009, a match in Antigua was called off after just 10 balls because a soft, sandy outfield was regarded as dangerous for bowlers and fielders.

What’s gonna happen now?

The Wanderers Test will continue as scheduled on day four. There was uncertainty over the future of the match when umpires took the players off 19 minutes before scheduled stumps on day three because of concerns over their safety on a spicy pitch. The pitch has had exaggerated bounce and seam right from the start of the match, but on day three various batsmen copped blows to their bodies against balls kicking up off a good length.


‘India want to continue, South Africa say it is up to the officials’

South African commentator Natalie Germanos said:

We’ve had a pitch that had a lot of grass on it but also there are some cracks and it seems like it has been a little softer than they expected. Today we saw pieces of the wickets starting to come up and spray all over the place.

South African coach Ottis Gibson said:

We are here to play cricket. We still want to play cricket. The match ref’s decision will be on player safety. He further added, it is not sour grapes at all because when South Africa were bowling, their captain Faf du Plessis said it might be unfair. They do want to play, but they are leaving it in the hands of the officials.

Indian Batsmen Ajinkya Rahane said:

What about them bowling short balls to our bowlers. When Ishant, Bhuvi, Bumrah were batting, everyone was bowling bouncers. I don’t think it is a dangerous wicket.

Commentator Sunil Gavaskar said:

If the Indians would have walked off in a similar situation, they would have been called sissies.

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