The curator of the Gabba wicket in Brisbane has spoken out in the wake of widespread uproar about the farcical scenes in Australia's first Test victory against South Africa. Pat Cummmins' Australia side took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three Test series against the Proteas after wrapping up a six-wicket victory over Dean Elgar's men inside two days.
Described as a 'green monster' before play even got underway on Saturday, the Gabba pitch has understandably come under heavy scrutiny, with a two-day Test representing a disastrous result for cricket fans around the country, not to mention a huge financial loss for Cricket Australia.
It's only the 21st Test match since 1877 that has yielded a result inside two days, leading to overwhelming criticism from around the cricket world. The first Test has been described as "embarrassing" and "farcical" by many cricket fans, with the South Africa captain among the many voices around the world to take aim at the Gabba wicket.
“Thirty-four wickets in two days – pretty one-sided affair, I would say,” he said. “How it started to play with some seriously steep bounce with the old ball, you are kind of on a hiding to none as a batting unit.
“If you think about it, only two or maybe three batters, applied themselves half-decently and scored runs. I don’t think it was a very good Test wicket, no.”
Elgar even went so fas as to suggest the pitch was dangerous when he asked the umpires how much longer the match should go on until it was deemed unsafe. "I did ask the umpires when KG (Kagiso Rabada) got (Travis) Head out down leg," Elgar revealed.
"I said, 'How long does it go on for until it potentially is unsafe?'. (Anrich) 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."
Even the World's No.1-ranked Test batter Marnus Labuschagne - who is used to calling the Gabba home when he bats for Queensland - admitted after the match it was not up to scratch. “I think everyone understands that this is not what we want, that’s not the ideal scenario,” Labuschagne told SEN.
“We love the pace of the wicket, we love the bounce, we love two fast bowling attacks going at it, but if we’re going to finish in under two days it’s obviously not ideal for Test cricket. “But the reality is we’ve played on probably two of those in the last two years.”
Steve Smith, who only managed scores of 36 and six in his two innings, labelled the Gabba deck as “probably the most challenging wicket I’ve seen in Australia”.
“It was like there were different areas of moisture on the wicket, so some balls were taking divots and going slow off the wicket, others were hitting harder parts of the wicket and zinging through,” Smith told cricket.com.au.
“So once those soft bits are hit, it creates some divots as well. You would‘ve seen a lot of the balls that hit the divots and either shot low or took off, so as a batter it’s very difficult to play against.”
Gabba curator accepts blame for first Test farce
The Gabba pitch is sure to be thoroughly reviewed by the ICC, with curator David Sandurski admitting he was "disappointed" and at fault for how the wicket was prepared.
“The scorecards are there. You can’t deny it. It is obviously not good enough for a match of this magnitude. No-one wants to have a two-day Test," he told News Corp.
"All the signs in the preparation pointed towards it being a reasonable wicket. But having said that, I have been around for a long time and I have to be better than that as well. I have to own that."
Despite the farcial nature of the two-day Test and the overwhelming opposition to the Gabba pitch, Australia's skipper perhaps surprisingly described it as "fine". While Cummins admitted that a two-day Test "probably isn't ideal", he took aim at Elgar's comments in particular, in the wash-up to the first Test.
"If you're going to lose the match, you'd probably try anything, wouldn't you?" Cummins said about Elgar's conversation with the umpires. "It was fine. There was some sideways movement, a little bit of up and down bounce. "It was certainly tricky."
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