Aussie cricket legend Allan Border has blasted critics of the Gabba pitch used for the first Test, turning the blowtorch on South Africa over their 'terrible' display. The first Test was the shortest in Australia for 91 years, finishing in less than two days as 34 wickets tumbled on a bowler's paradise.
The ICC has since declared the pitch 'below average', handing the Gabba one demerit point. The ICC said the green pitch - which had more grass on the surface than normal in Brisbane - did not facilitate an even contest between bat and ball.
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South Africa captain Dean Elgar went one step further, suggesting the pitch was 'dangerous' and revealing he'd spoken to umpires about stopping play because it was unsafe. But former Australia captain Border was having none of that suggestion and fired back at Elgar on Thursday.
“Some of the stuff that was talked about the pitch was over the top,” Border told Fox Sports. “I mean, it wasn’t dangerous for a start. That is not a dangerous wicket...They’re going on about those bouncers that went flying over - that was just terrible bowling on a fast, bouncy track.”
Border admitted the pitch wasn't up to Test standard but warned the MCG curators of going too far in the opposite direction for the Boxing Day Test. The MCG slapped with a 'poor' rating from the ICC in 2017 after a dour draw in which only 24 wickets fell over five days of play.
“Talking about it being dangerous is just not on. It wasn’t the case. It was difficult, but not dangerous," Border added. “I’m not trying to justify it, but sometimes the rhetoric got a bit over the top about how bad it was. It was like it was the worst wicket ever produced."
In handing down his verdict on the Gabba pitch, match referee Richie Richardson said: "Overall, the Gabba pitch for this Test match was too much in favour of the bowlers. There was extra bounce and occasional excessive seam movement. The odd delivery also kept low on the second day, making it very difficult for batters to build partnerships."
The demerit point will stay on the Gabba's record for five years. If a venue receives five demerit points they can be stripped of the right to host international matches.
Dean Elgar and Pat Cummins disagree about Gabba pitch
Speaking to reporters after the match, Elgar said: "You've got to ask yourself the question: Is that a good advertisement for our format? Thirty-four wickets in two days. A pretty one-sided affair I would say.
"I am a purist of this format and we want to see the game go four or five days. The way it started to play with some seriously steep bounce with an old ball ... you are on a hiding to none as a batting unit.
"I did ask the umpires when KG (Kagiso Rabada) got (Travis) Head out down leg. I said, 'How long does it go on for until it potentially is unsafe?' Nortje was bowling those short ones that were flying over our heads. I know the game was dead and buried. It was never to try and change (the result) or to put a halt to the game."
But Australia captain Pat Cummins was firmly in disagreement, saying: "If you're going to lose the match, you'd probably try anything, wouldn't you? It was fine. There was some sideways movement, a little bit of up and down bounce but ... there's no balls jumping off a length or anything like that.
"Two days probably isn't ideal. A lot of sideways movement and today a little bit of up and down bounce as well. Personally, I kind of don't mind when the groundsman errs on the greener side occasionally.
"I've played a lot of Test matches when they've erred on the flatter side so I think it was the same for both teams. No way (was it dangerous), it was fine."
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