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South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Durban, 4th day

Hayden hits out at pitch repair

AFP

March 28, 2006

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Groundman Wilson Ngoeese unrepairs a section of the pitch that had been illegally repaired overnight © Getty Images
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Matthew Hayden, Australia's opening batsman, hit out on Monday at repairs which were made to the Kingsmead pitch before the fourth day's play.

"It's been repaired in two areas," said Hayden. "A hole on one end has been mudded together to stop the cracks and at the other end there was a huge hole last night and it's been repaired. It's very embarrassing. In Test cricket the rules are very plain. You can't touch any of the playing surface."

Hayden said the Australians brought the repairs to the attention of the umpires at the start of play. Chris Broad, the match referee, ordered that the repair work be undone, which happened during the first drinks break. Enver Mall, chief executive of the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Association, disagreed with Hayden's description. He said soil was put into a hole, "about one centimetre by one centimetre" on a bowling follow-through area and taken out by groundsman Wilson Ngobese during the break.

"The Australians complained to the umpires and they were happy for play to carry on until the drinks break when the soil was taken out. The match referee hasn't made any complaint to me or the groundsman," said Mall.

Mickey Arthur, South Africa's coach, said his team had been unaware of the issue until Broad entered their dressing room about 40 minutes after play had started and told them about the instruction to restore the pitch to its previous condition. Arthur said the damage had been caused some distance outside a left-hander's off stump. "It was on about the second step of Andre Nel's follow through."

With the Australians pressing for a win, the possibility of Shane Warne being able to exploit any assistance from the pitch was a factor in their complaint. "It may have come into play, it may not have," said Hayden. "But it's the principle. You never compromise those rules. It's very disappointing."

Broad is to speak to the ICC to to prohibit such repairs being made in the future. "There is nothing specific in the laws of the game that says you can't, so I will recommend to the ICC that something like that is put in," Broad said. "There are obviously cracks here and they have got wider as the game's gone on, and they will break up and that's the nature of the pitch over five days."

When bad light ended play, South Africa were 29 for no wicket in their second innings after being set to make 410 to win.

© AFP

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