Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur slated South African pitches in the post-match press conference after day two of the second Test at Newlands.
The inconsistencies in the wickets were highlighted in the first Test in Centurion, and Arthur continued the scrutiny by criticising the preparation of the Newlands strip.
The Pakistan batsmen struggled on day one against the pace and bounce of the Proteas bowlers and this was evident by them being skittled for 177 in their first innings.
The Proteas’ experience of batting on the pitch varied. We saw free-flowing half-centuries from Aiden Markram on day one and Quinton de Kock on day two, while Faf du Plessis and Temba Bavuma found it tougher to face the Pakistan bowlers. As a result, both Du Plessis and Bavuma received some tough blows to the body and helmet.
Arthur refrained from calling the pitch dangerous, but he did criticise the inconsistency of the strip.
‘I’m a little bit disappointed, to be honest. I haven’t been back to South Africa in a cricketing capacity since 2010 and the standard of the wickets … you know … the wicket we had in Centurion and the wicket we had here hasn’t been good for Test cricket,’ said Arthur.
‘I think both wickets have been very weighted in favour of the bowlers, and obviously it’s home ground advantage. Being an opening batsman in South African conditions must be a tough gig.
‘I don’t think [the wickets] are dangerous,’ he added. ‘I think the difference is that South Africa bowled 145 plus and we bowled around 135 and those extra 10km/h make a massive difference.
‘I just think it is inconsistent. I think there were seven stoppages today for balls that hit cracks and the physio came running out and we’re talking about day two.
‘I understand if it is happening on days four and five because that’s what happens in Test cricket; wickets deteriorate significantly and so they should, but it shouldn’t make your first innings a lottery, and I think that batting here in the first innings is extremely tough.
‘I still believe in a good contest in Test cricket, but again, we aren’t at home, so we don’t have a say. I do think the wickets have got significantly worse since I coached in 2010.’
Temba Bavuma, who scored 75, also weighed in on the pitch.
‘I do think it was a tricky wicket,’ Bavuma said. ‘If I compare it to Supersport Park it was a bit quicker, so any deviation off the wicket was a bit hard to adjust to,’ he said.
‘It was challenging, but not impossible. It was a wicket that as a batsman you have to embrace.
‘You have to make peace with the fact that you going to take a few blows on the body. But at the end of it all if you are able to make it through it will be very satisfactory.
‘I wouldn’t call it dangerous,’ he added. ‘Faf is still living, I’m still living, so … like I said, it was tricky but definitely not impossible to bat on.’
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