South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth February 18, 2014

'Furry' pitch greets teams at St. George's

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What do Hashim Amla and the St George's Park pitch have in common? Both have gone unshaven for a long time. 

"That pitch scares me at the moment," Adrian Carter, the Port Elizabeth groundsman, told ESPNcricinfo. "I'd like to give it a cut. If it was left like this, I'd be skeptical even for the franchise game because I think there would be a lot of assistance for the seamers."  

Carter left more than just a healthy covering of grass on his pitch, raising Australian eyebrows, as he awaited instruction from the South African camp, which will likely see a lot of it cut-off.  "At the moment, its very furry and it's green," Carter said, before his meeting with Domingo and Co. "I have had a phone call from the South African camp and I'll talk to them again and see what they want. There's a lot of experience in Adrian Birrell and Russell - between them they've coached here for over 10 years - so they know St George's as well as anyone."

As soon as the squad arrived at the ground, Domingo, who coached the local franchise - the Warriors - before becoming Gary Kirsten's assistant, and Birrell, who is a former Eastern Province coach, headed straight for the strip. They examined it with Carter, and were joined by bowling coach Allan Donald and Graeme Smith. The conversation appeared good-natured and shortly afterwards, Carter was relaying instructions to his assistants. 

It's likely South Africa will want some to keep some grass on the surface to assist their own pack, but not so much as to roll out a red carpet for Mitchell Johnson. Morne Morkel, though, said the nature of the pitch should not make a difference to Johnson. "Whether it's a slow wicket or a quick wicket, if a guys is going at 150kph, its quick," Morkel said. "So the pitch won't play a big role in whether a guy like that is effective or not. He is bowling well so it the pace of the wicket doesn't matter." 

Those words had barely left his mouth when Morkel stressed the pitch will not resemble what he called the quickest Centurion pitch he has seen in 10 years. "It will be completely different from the Highveld," he said. "We know it's a touch slower and there's an almost subcontinent feel."

Carter concurred saying even with the grass covering, St George's will never be like SuperSport Park as that simply isn't its character. "I was going through the archives the other day and looking at a report from a Test match here from the early 1900s and they said it was played 'on a slow pitch'. So this pitch has been slow for 114 years. I can't get it quicker," he said. "I don't think St George's will ever behave like Centurion. It's different clay, it's at the coast." 

Seam movement and swing, rather than bounce, will be an early factor with the wind being an additional element. So far, it has been blowing from a westerly direction, which comes from inland, and is known as the drying wind that flattens the surface out. But is likely to change direction over the course of the next few days, to become more easterly, which comes off the sea, brings clouds, rain and good news for bowlers.

That will probably mean the surface won't be allowed to dry out too much and the spin factor may not be as important as it can be here. Carter also said he expects it to hold together for a large part of the match. "We don't get very big cracks. We might get small hairline cracks that open up two millimetres." 

With that type of surface, Carter said he has been quite pleased with "our four-day pitches over the last few seasons." There have been two four-day games played at St George's Park this summer, both high-scoring. In the Warriors-Cobras clash both teams made over 500 in their first innings and the trend sort-of continued into the Warriors-Titans game. Then, the Warriors made 502 but bowled an under-firing Titans line-up out for under 250. 

Tellingly, Wayne Parnell took eight wickets in the game and Simon Harmer, the offspinner, finished with six. Considering it will be a similar pitch this time, that may influence South Africa's selection and see Parnell make a Test return on his homeground. And by then, the pitch should only have as much stubble as he does.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ozcricketwriter on February 20, 2014, 10:23 GMT

    Doctoring the pitches should be banned at international level. The ICC should get involved and ensure that all surfaces are fair to both sides.

  • jb633 on February 19, 2014, 16:50 GMT

    Excellent from SA, I really hope they play on a sluggish green top. The pitches in England were perfect to play against Aus, slow and moving around a bit. Aus have the bowlers to capitalise but guys like Warner and even Clarke to an extent have often been found wanting when the ball jags around a bit. Should be an interesting game but I am backing SA to come back and roll the Aussies in this one. Philander on a green top is a nightmare.

  • flowersintherain on February 19, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    The problem for South Africa is that the Australian pace attack is more than a match for theirs. Siddle and Harris move the ball very well. So I'm not sure that anything they do to the pitch can give them an advantage.

  • itsthewayuplay on February 19, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    The groundsman would be skeptical if there was a lot of assistance for the seamers. And? Why shouldn't there be something for the bowlers given that they're basically canon fodder in T20s and ODIs. Alternatively, the groundsman could take the novel approach of preparing a true test wicket - one where the batsman have to work for their runs and bowlers have to work for their wickets.

  • inefekt on February 19, 2014, 11:28 GMT

    @ModernUmpiresPlz Regardless of whether it is a drop in pitch or not, the same clay that is used for the WACA pitch will be used for the pitch at the new stadium. Also, Cricket Oz has made it clear that test matches will still be played at the WACA while only the bigger ODI's and T20's will be played at the new stadium. Oh, Ashes test might be played there too given the high demand for tickets.

  • dunger.bob on February 19, 2014, 11:22 GMT

    @ Thegimp : Very good point. In fact, I'll take it. .. When you look at it football has had a massive impact on Australian pitches. Let's face it. They're no longer cricket grounds. They're more footy grounds that allow cricket to be played on them in the off season. .. Sad in a way, but true.

  • OneEyedAussie on February 19, 2014, 10:43 GMT

    For mine a pitch that goes to the fifth day, minimises the influence of the toss and gives an opportunity for all skills to be showcased is a good pitch. Usually that means a bit in it for the seamers on day 1 morning, good batting day 2/3 and start to take turn on day 4/5. Of course, each individual venue will have unique qualities and that's part of the charm of international cricket. In the interest of the long term integrity of the game, what we don't want is pitches where the game is over inside 3 days and is practically decided by the toss. It would be very sad if that were to be the case for this test match.

  • PrasPunter on February 19, 2014, 9:56 GMT

    I have a lot of respect for SA. They have an excellent record overseas. Little surprising to see how they have gotten curious about the strips being laid !! Not sure if Aus ever did that during our period of dominance !! Hope we get over the line this time as well !!

  • Kschneider on February 19, 2014, 9:42 GMT

    Yoicks. I've never heard the like of this before. Normally when acussed of doctoring a pitch the curator denies it and blames the late rain, fungus in the grass or some other odd event. I think in future it best for sides to boycott PE in future.

  • FRpunk on February 19, 2014, 9:40 GMT

    @ModernUmpiresPlz

    Thanks for the Input . It Would be a Real Shame If WACA is Finished as a Test Match Venue in Favor of Bigger Stadiums . The Adelaide Oval is not the Same any More IMO . Offcourse an India vs Pakistan match in the 2015 world cup at the Adelaide oval would be Great to Watch as the new Stands Can hold more than 50k i Guess . That would be Awesome . But for the Test Matches i would Definitely Miss the Old Adelaide Oval . It Was perfect for a Test Match .

    I Guess now Brisbane , Melbourne , Sydney and Adelaide would be the Venues for India vs Australia Series 2014\15 ( with Mtch bowling @ 150kmph , I don`t think we are gonna win a Test at all ) . I Do Hope that WACA gets more Test in the Future . Its one of the Best Test Match Venues and it would be a Real Shame if it no Longer holds Test Matches .

  • Ozcricketwriter on February 20, 2014, 10:23 GMT

    Doctoring the pitches should be banned at international level. The ICC should get involved and ensure that all surfaces are fair to both sides.

  • jb633 on February 19, 2014, 16:50 GMT

    Excellent from SA, I really hope they play on a sluggish green top. The pitches in England were perfect to play against Aus, slow and moving around a bit. Aus have the bowlers to capitalise but guys like Warner and even Clarke to an extent have often been found wanting when the ball jags around a bit. Should be an interesting game but I am backing SA to come back and roll the Aussies in this one. Philander on a green top is a nightmare.

  • flowersintherain on February 19, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    The problem for South Africa is that the Australian pace attack is more than a match for theirs. Siddle and Harris move the ball very well. So I'm not sure that anything they do to the pitch can give them an advantage.

  • itsthewayuplay on February 19, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    The groundsman would be skeptical if there was a lot of assistance for the seamers. And? Why shouldn't there be something for the bowlers given that they're basically canon fodder in T20s and ODIs. Alternatively, the groundsman could take the novel approach of preparing a true test wicket - one where the batsman have to work for their runs and bowlers have to work for their wickets.

  • inefekt on February 19, 2014, 11:28 GMT

    @ModernUmpiresPlz Regardless of whether it is a drop in pitch or not, the same clay that is used for the WACA pitch will be used for the pitch at the new stadium. Also, Cricket Oz has made it clear that test matches will still be played at the WACA while only the bigger ODI's and T20's will be played at the new stadium. Oh, Ashes test might be played there too given the high demand for tickets.

  • dunger.bob on February 19, 2014, 11:22 GMT

    @ Thegimp : Very good point. In fact, I'll take it. .. When you look at it football has had a massive impact on Australian pitches. Let's face it. They're no longer cricket grounds. They're more footy grounds that allow cricket to be played on them in the off season. .. Sad in a way, but true.

  • OneEyedAussie on February 19, 2014, 10:43 GMT

    For mine a pitch that goes to the fifth day, minimises the influence of the toss and gives an opportunity for all skills to be showcased is a good pitch. Usually that means a bit in it for the seamers on day 1 morning, good batting day 2/3 and start to take turn on day 4/5. Of course, each individual venue will have unique qualities and that's part of the charm of international cricket. In the interest of the long term integrity of the game, what we don't want is pitches where the game is over inside 3 days and is practically decided by the toss. It would be very sad if that were to be the case for this test match.

  • PrasPunter on February 19, 2014, 9:56 GMT

    I have a lot of respect for SA. They have an excellent record overseas. Little surprising to see how they have gotten curious about the strips being laid !! Not sure if Aus ever did that during our period of dominance !! Hope we get over the line this time as well !!

  • Kschneider on February 19, 2014, 9:42 GMT

    Yoicks. I've never heard the like of this before. Normally when acussed of doctoring a pitch the curator denies it and blames the late rain, fungus in the grass or some other odd event. I think in future it best for sides to boycott PE in future.

  • FRpunk on February 19, 2014, 9:40 GMT

    @ModernUmpiresPlz

    Thanks for the Input . It Would be a Real Shame If WACA is Finished as a Test Match Venue in Favor of Bigger Stadiums . The Adelaide Oval is not the Same any More IMO . Offcourse an India vs Pakistan match in the 2015 world cup at the Adelaide oval would be Great to Watch as the new Stands Can hold more than 50k i Guess . That would be Awesome . But for the Test Matches i would Definitely Miss the Old Adelaide Oval . It Was perfect for a Test Match .

    I Guess now Brisbane , Melbourne , Sydney and Adelaide would be the Venues for India vs Australia Series 2014\15 ( with Mtch bowling @ 150kmph , I don`t think we are gonna win a Test at all ) . I Do Hope that WACA gets more Test in the Future . Its one of the Best Test Match Venues and it would be a Real Shame if it no Longer holds Test Matches .

  • FRpunk on February 19, 2014, 9:27 GMT

    @dinosaurus

    Well SCG is Quite Possible the Greatest Test Match Venue Ever . The Pink Test always attracts Full Houses . Some Of the very best Test Matches have been Played at the SCG . pakistan vs Australia 2010 , India vs Australia 2008 ( Indians should have won this one ) , South africa vs Australia 2009 are the ones which come to my mind . Yeah the SCG Test is treat to Watch .

  • Thegimp on February 19, 2014, 9:25 GMT

    @dunger.bob....I think you'll find that the greening of the SCG came about from Rugby League moving to the Sydney Football Stadium. The centre wicket no longer became a mud patch during winter.

  • Meety on February 19, 2014, 8:52 GMT

    @Greatest_Game on (February 19, 2014, 1:59 GMT) - Enjoy your boys batting in the 1st Test. Maybe no Kallis - no #1 SA cricket team?. You who seems to think that SA are so far ahead of Oz. Reality is that Oz is the ONLY cricket nation in the world that don't doctor their pitches. NZ & SA get honorable mentions (something I withdraw from the ECB over recent pitches dished up there over the last 4 or 5 yrs). I have never seen any curator anywhere in the world so brazenly admit to making the pitch according to the home sides wishes - or rather awaiting "to see what they want".

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 19, 2014, 8:32 GMT

    @smudgeon Yeah, usually this stuff is kept a secret from the general public if it is indeed happening, but I can remember at least a couple of times where Australian curators were asked if they would prepare a pitch to suit the Australian team and the response was to the effect of an adamant, "It's my pitch, I'll prepare it the way I prepare it."

  • smudgeon on February 19, 2014, 8:19 GMT

    Am I missing something? Does every curator in the world ask the home captain for advice on the kind of pitch they want? I remember that dude in India saying he would prepare whatever track he thought was best after he was asked to make it a turner, and I seem to recall the Gabba (?) curator saying he would make the track as he normally does. Are these guys the exception? I'm genuinely amazed...

  • testcric4ever on February 19, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    No problem with curators tailoring pitches to so suit the home side - every country does it. Why do you think we play the first test of most series at the GABBA? What I will say though is for a no .1 ranked SAF that is talked up so much by their fans, shouldn't they be good enough to compete on any pitch?

  • dunger.bob on February 19, 2014, 7:12 GMT

    Re the pitch doctoring thing. The way it's portrayed in the article gives me the impression that it's a matter of course at this ground. Could be a false impression mind you. I'm with the crew that says go for your life. Slowly dig your own grave if you must.

    @ Greatest_Game: I don't know how much influence CA has on the pitch curators at our major grounds. .. I think they do have some influence on at lesser venues as their 'suggestion' to even the balance between bat and ball in grade cricket seems to be having some effect. Batting averages are improving right across the board. .. I also think the Test pitches are a no go zone for CA. Again, I don't know this for a fact and the only 'evidence' I've got is that during Warne's time the SCG become less conducive to spin and the WACA started to slow down and not bounce as much which didn't actually help Warne or his partner in crime, McGrath. .. Our groundsmen have a long tradition of doing it their way. Good on them I say.

  • Thegimp on February 19, 2014, 6:51 GMT

    @Gurudumu.......six test matches dude!!!

  • on February 19, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    At Adam, I'm fairly certain NZ pitches are always just left up to the grounds men. Time, after time, after time the grounds men are asked if they've had any contact from captains and coaches and they say that they've had none and are just trying to prepare a good pitch.

  • CrikiLeaks on February 19, 2014, 6:27 GMT

    @Greatest_Game - get your Hansie off it! You truly are an embarrassment. The claim of Australian curators preserving their pitches historical characteristics is an undeniable fact. Most of your comments are as pathetic as Hello13's.

  • Chris_P on February 19, 2014, 6:27 GMT

    @Hello13. Seriously, tell us, have you ever played a serious game of cricket in your life? Ever?

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 19, 2014, 6:15 GMT

    @Greatest_Game Well the 96 SA scored didn't help it last much longer either to be fair.

  • Mr.PotatoesTomatoes on February 19, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    Shaving off that grass is the last thing the Proteas would want.Its the only way they can offset the pace and bounce of Mitch with seam movement for their bowlers who looked pretty pedestrian at Centurion.And fastest Centurion track???Didn't an Aussie debutant rollick away to 87 without fuss against a bowling attack touted by many as the number one pace attack in the world?It was Mitch who was bowling quick,the pitch wasn't particularly pacey at all....the Saffers minds are all scrambled right now.

  • GlobalCricketLover on February 19, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    a high scoring pitch can only be a disadvantage for SA. They need to win the remaining 2 tests, even a single draw will spoil it for them (not to mention any 'losses')..getting the opposition all out twice should be on their minds first.

  • PrasPunter on February 19, 2014, 5:29 GMT

    @Hello13 , even after the drubbing your team got at the hands of the NZ, surprising to see how the fans from india displaying arrogance !! For a change, you shall stay back and advise your folks on how to stay humble instead of posturing as world-beaters !!

  • on February 19, 2014, 5:27 GMT

    Even though SA is the no.1 team, their bowling unit is very unsettled.. Batsmen have eventually found out Philander.. Morkel and Steyn are great bowlers but Morkel seems harmless with the length he bowls.. Steyn is the best bowler in the world, even with Johnson being in the form that he is in.. The spinner has always been the Achilles's heel for SA.. They need Tahir as much as Tahir needs them.. Peterson is neither Paul Harris nor, Tahir.. He just rolls his arm over.. Much like Ishant Sharma for the Indian team.. He is neither chipping in with crucial wickets nor keeping it tight.. Australia on the other hand have a settled unit.. Johnson is the backbone.. But the substance comes from Harris and Siddle.. Batsmen do not get away much even after seeing Johnson out.. But if the batsmen see off Steyn, they are able to leave Morkel and attack Philander and Peterson.. SA are in real trouble this series.. They might have met their match after all..

  • Int.Curator on February 19, 2014, 5:13 GMT

    It is disappointing to hear SA curators along with English and Indian curators will prepare pitches to give their side an unfair advatnage.

    This in turn has a long term negative effect on a national teams performance abroad. Teams that do rely on doctored pitches are less resilient and more vulnerable on a wide range of pitches.(although Indian pitches are so doctored they are of poor quality)

    Precisely reason how and why India perform so poorly abroad.

    Leave the curator to prepare pitches and cricketers to play cricket every team will improve.

    SA have inadequate players to beat Australia. No team would have beaten Australia head to head in the last six months.. SA were given fair warning though appeared ambushed at Centurions.

    Lets see if SA can lift to new levels.

  • Gurudumu on February 19, 2014, 4:25 GMT

    Those Aussie fans inebriated with the results of one Test match are in for a rude shock. A pitch that allows for a bit of seam and swing movement will see the Ozzy batsmen unable to post 200-odd runs on the board ... you can take this to the bank.

  • C.Gull on February 19, 2014, 4:20 GMT

    I came to say what others have already said. Seems most pitch curators will take orders from the national team setup nowadays, notable exceptions being Australians and that one feisty old chap in India who made news a couple of years ago with his refusal to doctor. Long may they continue.

  • on February 19, 2014, 4:17 GMT

    It seems to be consensus here that Australian curators don't consult with captains or coaches when it comes to preparing a pitch. Perhaps it happens behind closed doors and is never spoken of but evidence would suggest that Aussie home pitches are simply left to the bloke with the mower. Pitches consistently display similar qualities and home curators seem quite proud of the predictable attributes you assign to each ground. So is Australia the only home nation that doesn't prepare pitches according to team instructions or is it just never spoken of?

  • warnerbasher on February 19, 2014, 2:55 GMT

    You could play this game on Mars and the result would be the same. Australia are on an unstoppable role and sometime mid afternoon on the 4th day will be leading 2-0.With regards to the pitches all the pitches in Australia have the same character year in year out allthough drop in pitches particularly at Adelaide may change the character of these pitches. fd other copuntries want to doctor their pitches to suit the home team let them. The only country with any cricketing integrity left is Australia

  • Meety on February 19, 2014, 2:32 GMT

    @ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 18, 2014, 19:37 GMT) - spot on. Anybody who calls the WACA a greentop has no idea about cricket. Bellreive versus NZ in that close test we lost, the SCG v Pakistan & maybe the Gabba v NZ were the only Green Tops I have seen in Oz in a decade. == == == Also am quite amazed at how chummy the curator is with the Saffa management. That doesn't happen in Oz - asking what Oz management want. Not a good look, wonder if we will have "Selective Shaving" here! LOL!

  • chicko1983 on February 19, 2014, 2:20 GMT

    Remember what was being said before the Adelaide test - "the slowest wicket in its history","johnson wont be as effective on it", it will "suit the superior english batsmen more" etc etc and look how that turned out!

  • AidanFX on February 19, 2014, 2:05 GMT

    "I'll have a talk to them and see what they [South Africa] want". What is going on with curators these days. Don't get me wrong - I am all for the so called home advantage of the pitch playing a certain way that is in keeping with what what the local nation is used to. But since when did the home team get to decide what it would be like. This isn't sport. Again - in India Dhoni is at odds with one of the curators because Dhoni is constantly pressuring the curator to make a 'dust bowl'. I have no problem with Indian wickets being dryer, flatter conducive to spin but it is outrageous where the game has gone with the home side having the final say. I am adamant this is not in keeping with the spirit of sport. Both teams get what the curator develops, neither away nor home team should have the final say - it is a joke.

  • Greatest_Game on February 19, 2014, 1:59 GMT

    @ ModernUmpiresPlz wrote "If it's a greentop Siddle and Harris are also going to be a handful. Might be an incredibly short test match. Hope it's still going on the weekend."

    Me too. It would be a shame if Aus folded for 47, again ,and everything was over in two days and a session, again! Hopefully they will man up this time?

  • Greatest_Game on February 19, 2014, 1:51 GMT

    What has got into the Australian commenters here."

    "no Australian curator would have a chat to the home team's coach." Rubbish.

    "Australia still are the only country left in test cricket who make a determined effort to maintain the character of their Sheffield Shield pitches in test matches." The only truth in that statement is that Aus are the only country who play Sheffield Shield cricket!

    " Bring on the green top if you think South Africa are so good. Australians are used to the green top, they play on the greenest pitch in the world - the WACA.."

    "I'm from Perth and I just want to say that the WACA is never a greentop, if anything it looks a shimmering white most of the time before it breaks apart into the grand canyon. Even if the WACA did produce a greentop it would probably only be green for about 20 minutes before the sun went to work on it."

    You Aussies are so busy picking fights, you are fighting with yourselves! Calm down, Bruce!

  • Thegimp on February 19, 2014, 1:41 GMT

    No batsmen can play "good" swing, spin and seam.

    Not only has the Australians stunned the protea batsmen and bowlers, they have stunned the curators and brains trust as well.

    This pitch doctoring drives me insane, this is why home teams are most prevalant in this era and when they travel are duds. How can you sleep at night claiming to be the number one team in the world and then order your curantors to prepare certain conditions? To be able to claim #1 is to be able to say Anyone, Anywhere under Any Conditions. It's why WI were dominant and why Aust were dominant for so long.

    I say prepare what you want because this current Australian side will come at you no matter what. There is no fear of failure. Who dares wins.

  • on February 19, 2014, 1:11 GMT

    I feel terribly naive now. I always thought that doctoring the pitch to suit the home team was cheating. On Australia's last three tours India have doctored, England have doctored and now SA so I guess it's just part of the game. I wonder if Aussie curators will catch on.

  • dunger.bob on February 19, 2014, 0:38 GMT

    I don't quite get it. On the one hand they're talking about a swinging, seaming deck where the quicker bowlers will be in pig heaven but in the next breath they say it's been a batsman's strip for the domestic games. 500+ totals and whatnot. .. So which is it? It can't be both, or can it.

  • disco_bob on February 19, 2014, 0:33 GMT

    The SA team, should just forget about asking for a tailor made pitch and simply leave it to the ground staff to prepare the best wicket for Test cricket. SA are going to get pasted again anyway and if they then have any influence at all on the pitch, especially now that it has been made public that they will, then that just puts even more pressure onto SA because if it goes bad then they have asked for it. Similar to what happened by sending Australia in.

  • TheBigBoodha on February 18, 2014, 23:42 GMT

    Carter said. "I have had a phone call from the South African camp and I'll talk to them again and see what they want."

    Say what? You mean the SA team dictates the pitch conditions. Wow! Thanks for confirming what I have always suspected.

    I can assure you this is not the case in Australia. The curator is free to make his own call. But I know Dhoni also has a hotline to India's groundsmen. This is probably why Australia is one of the few places where visiting teams get a fair go with pitches. There is always a good diversity for visiting teams.

    The dilemma here then is that if SA lay down their standard green tops then then they might get blown away by their opposition, as for the first time in living memory they face an opponent with a pace attack at least as good as their own.

  • dinosaurus on February 18, 2014, 23:20 GMT

    @FRpunk,

    The thing about the SCG is that it favours swing and seam early in the match, and spin later. Many good judges (especially Richie Benaud, admittedly a "local") seriously argue the the SCG provides the best all-round wicket in the world. Aside from helping the bowlers who have the skill and put in the effort, it does the same for the batsmen!

  • Shaggy076 on February 18, 2014, 23:15 GMT

    Chad Withyman; That SCG pitch we played on was pretty dodgy, Adelaide didn't bounce. It just happens we have now found a bowling attack that is going to be hard on any surface.

  • Hello13 on February 18, 2014, 22:52 GMT

    You get the feeling that Australians are going to regret talking so arrogantly to the media very soon. About time they learnt how to behave

  • yuvi_gladiator on February 18, 2014, 22:37 GMT

    why don't they move the game over to England instead ;-)

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on February 18, 2014, 22:32 GMT

    @Warren Smith (post on February 18, 2014, 18:41 GMT): that's a bit unfair because despite what certain posters might say, the pitches in England during the Ashes last year were absolutely no different to what they were like either historically or during County Cricket. All the accusations about doctoring pitches to suit Swann were unjust; it was genuinely one of the warmest, driest summers we've had for ages and a hosepipe is no substitute for rain/humidity. I do agree that Australian pitches are constantly maintained at their true characters as well, so no arguments there.

  • yuvi_gladiator on February 18, 2014, 22:31 GMT

    "i am just waiting for the instructions from the SA camp" this should not be considered pitch doctoring in any way, because SA curators don't do that. he just wants a view point before he cuts it thats all :D

  • btron3000 on February 18, 2014, 22:15 GMT

    So, we've got to a stage where a cutator can come out and admit he's waiting to talk to the coach before finalising the pitch and everyone just accepts it! Outrageous! (And sad!!)

    And according to the quotes, it'll be subcontinental but won't turn much!! Sounds thrilling!

  • DragonCricketer on February 18, 2014, 21:53 GMT

    Cricket is such an amazing game. so many layers. Like the ball and the pitch. What other sport talks so much about the playing surface, rollers, cracks and deterioration over 5 days etc. The intricacies of cricket.

  • jimmyvida on February 18, 2014, 21:44 GMT

    It depends on where Johnson's short pitched balls are heading? If, as in the first test, second innings, where Johnson bowled with less aggression but his short pitched ball were dead on, the SA batsmen would have the same problem. And Harris seem to be bowling with quite a bit of steam too. What a mess for SA if El Capitan and el numero tres falls quickly.

  • jimmyvida on February 18, 2014, 21:37 GMT

    Can SA borrow a Bangladesh pitch for this match? Thank you.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 18, 2014, 20:55 GMT

    I want the pitch to have a green tinge to it but if it's a proper greentop that you HAVE to bowl first on I think that's a mistake. That's like SA saying "we can't beat you on a normal pitch so we'll let the toss decide who wins". If the pitch is a completely green bowl first pitch and Australia win the toss do you really think SA is gonna make a big score and put pressure on Australia? I find that highly doubtful.

    Bit of assistance but nothing silly. We have #1, #2 and #15 vs #3, #4 and #6 in the world bowling rankings here. Make it a proper contest. How much assistance should they need?

  • pat_one_back on February 18, 2014, 20:44 GMT

    Doctor Doctor it's an emergency! The gall of this is outright appalling, almost as much as the writers acceptance of a curator awaiting Captains orders to prepare his pitch. Curators whilst mindful of what's expected are there to prepare the best possible test pitch on their ground and inform Captains how the pitch should play, not the reverse! Where is his professional integrity... These sides have such similar strengths it makes little difference but in the context of the series of course advantage can be taken. Now in control I'm sure Smith will ensure the pitch is shaved and rolled to death, stem Aussie momentum with a draw and turn on a result pitch in the 3rd. Next they'll be bringing in the ropes so edges of Mitch all go for 6.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 18, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    @FRpunk It slowed down a lot more a few years ago and the WACA spent a LOT of money reviving the square. They did this ahead of upgrading the facilities/seating arrangements of the WACA and it cost them a test match for the upcoming India series which I think is a real shame. If Perth tests are held at the new super stadium they're building then it'll never be the same as that will be yet another drop in pitch. I really hope that doesn't happen, the WACA might have the facilities of a bomb shelter but in terms of the quality of cricket it would be such a shame never to see a test match on the WACA pitch again, especially now that the pace is starting to come back.

  • thectexperience on February 18, 2014, 20:35 GMT

    Agree with @roger and the rest: I remember when this type of collusion between groundskeeper and home side was scandalous! Whatever, let the cowards do as they please; it'll only make the win more satisfying. Ultimately, long-term, you are digging your own side's grave by always preparing the pitches they most prefer.

    In any case, we can happily back Clarke, Doolan and Rogers on a green-top and Smith has no obvious weakness.

  • Tumbarumbar on February 18, 2014, 20:18 GMT

    Lion83 Posted 'Australia cant play good spin & swing and seam' which presumably means that neither England nor South Africa have bowlers capable of bowling good spin, swing and seam. It makes you wonder how Philander, Steyn, Anderson, Broad and Swan managed to achieve such high ICC rankings.

  • Peterincanada on February 18, 2014, 20:17 GMT

    Adelaide is a flat pitch where England were supposed to get revenge for what Mitch did to them at the Gabba. He took his best haul 9 wickets. The Waca was where Johnson was supposed to be most feared. He took 6 wickets his lowest return. My point is that when he has his rhythm the pitch doesn't matter that much. He even extracted life from Indian pitches.

  • FRpunk on February 18, 2014, 20:02 GMT

    @ModernUmpiresPlz Yeah thats What i Thought . Unfortunately Hobart misses out on a lot of high Profile Test Matches and so its Difficult to Consider it the best Bowling Pitch in the World . WACA has Definately Slowed down a Bit . Has`nt it ? and SCG has Changed its Character too I Guess . It used to be a Flat Subcontinental Type of Pitch Which Offers Turn on days 4 & 5 . but now SCG Looks More Like a Green Top .

  • FRpunk on February 18, 2014, 19:56 GMT

    The Pitch Should be Green . Steyn is still the Best bowler in the World . on a Green Pitch , He will Regain his Confidence . Don`t Worry about facing Mitch on a Green top . It Won`t make that much of a Difference . He Bowls @ 150kmph . So Green or Dusty . 150 is 150 . yeah u could say that Harris and Siddle would be more Dangerous on a green top but So would Morkel and Philander . Philander on a Green top is a Different Bowler

    SA need to have an attacking Mindset . they are already 0-1 down . Go for Wickets .

    I must admit that Indians are not the only ones who Doctor their pitches . But Honestly every home team Should Prepare Pitches which Suites their Sides the Most . No Problem with that .

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 18, 2014, 19:37 GMT

    "Australians are used to the green top, they play on the greenest pitch in the world - the WACA."

    I'm from Perth and I just want to say that the WACA is never a greentop, if anything it looks a shimmering white most of the time before it breaks apart into the grand canyon. Even if the WACA did produce a greentop it would probably only be green for about 20 minutes before the sun went to work on it.

    The place you will get a serious greentop is Hobart. And it won't dry out for a long time so it can be an absolute greentop for a large portion of the match too.

  • on February 18, 2014, 19:17 GMT

    Bring on the green top if you think South Africa are so good. Australians are used to the green top, they play on the greenest pitch in the world - the WACA.

    Try it, Mister South African Curator.

    Or prepare one of those slower pitches. The subcontinential pitch AB mentioned - don't forget the only Test class spinner between the squads is the Australian Nathan Lyon.

  • Forza_Scuderia on February 18, 2014, 19:15 GMT

    Green top, pink top, hard top... It doesn't matter because 150kph is 150kph!

    Preparing this type of surface will bring Harris and Siddle even more into the game as well. Australia might even be tempted to play Watson should he be fit enough because he gets a good deal of swing and seam under the right conditions. I don't see how this is going to end well for the Proteas...

    Also, waiting this late before finalising the surface is tantamount to doctoring. Had this been India they would have been ridiculed.

    Anyway, hoping for a good test match.

  • on February 18, 2014, 18:41 GMT

    Agree with you Jeremy Dezso. Australia still are the only country left in test cricket who make a determined effort to maintain the character of their Sheffield Shield pitches in test matches.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 18, 2014, 18:38 GMT

    @Lion83 I can't remember too many batsmen who look good when the bowlers are bowling well and pitching the ball up when it's seaming. It's pretty much a matter of playing the line and hoping if it seams you miss it completely instead of nicking it. Not sure if you were watching but in the second innings where AB scored 48 the ball nipped away a couple of times and he very nearly got out caught at slips, they were razor close but he missed them instead of nicking them. Human beings don't have reaction times fast enough to middle a ball at 140kph that lands only 5 metres away and then moves sideways 10 cm. It's just impossible. If you middle a ball that does that then you would have missed it if it went straight. Simple as that.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 18, 2014, 18:23 GMT

    @stormy16 Yeah, I will say that no Australian curator would have a chat to the home team's coach before deciding how much grass to leave on the pitch. It's their pitch, they prepare it the way they deem appropriate, and everybody lives with it. The fact that he's unwilling to cut it until he finds out what Domingo wants is... well, frankly, a little bit sad and pathetic, isn't it?

  • PrasPunter on February 18, 2014, 18:06 GMT

    @Lion83, you missed out a few other ones - Australia can't hold a bat or ball and can't catch one as well . But the biggest surprise is , with all these can'ts, Aus dominated for a good measure of 10+ years. Just imagine how it would have been had they known any or all of these !!

  • stormy16 on February 18, 2014, 17:50 GMT

    If this was in Asia it would be called doctoring wickets but lets move on. So SA cannot decide what sort of a wicket to throw in the fear of losing? What is going on, SA have the best attack in the world - this should be a no brainer. Yes Aus are good and Johnson is a major problem but few would match Vern on a green top. Also lets face it the Aus batting is no where near competent at handling the moving ball compared to SA. The lack of bounce and pace I reckon already negates the Aus strenght and SA should take the chance with a green top and back themselves to outrun Aus.

  • on February 18, 2014, 17:47 GMT

    It's hard to tell just yet but if SA start doctoring their pitches just to negate Johnson, they have no right to call themselves the best bowling attack.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 18, 2014, 17:34 GMT

    @Bernadino I'm really interested to see if it swings like they say it will. Sure, Steyn is an awesome swing bowler but MJ is most deadly when he pitches up and gets late swing which he did a lot in the recent ashes series. None of his wickets in the first test were unplayable balls, they were more related to wary batsmen in the top order. When he gets the late swing he becomes genuinely unplayable. Looking forward to it. If it's a greentop Siddle and Harris are also going to be a handful. Might be an incredibly short test match. Hope it's still going on the weekend.

  • jimmyvida on February 18, 2014, 17:12 GMT

    Need wickets like Bangladesh. Then Johnson will be no problem. In Bangladesh you can go to sleep waiting for the short ball.

  • Bernadino on February 18, 2014, 16:42 GMT

    It is naive to think that a seaming wicket (with or without some pace) will help SA more than Australia. This only makes Siddle and Harris more dangerous. And Johnson has shown the ability to swing the ball at 150 kph under favorable conditions, making him super lethal. The South Africans need to be very careful what they ask for because, good as they are, the Australian pace bowlers are presently the best hunting pack in the world today. Throw in Nathan Lyon, the best spinner on either team, and Australia seem to have the edge all round in bowling no matter what type of pitch is produced. The tourists are a very confident team playing a very aggressive style right now, and I don't see SA bouncing back quickly after their recent mauling.

  • roger on February 18, 2014, 16:07 GMT

    Since when does the groundsman admit to consulting the home team and taking its order?

  • Lion83 on February 18, 2014, 15:50 GMT

    Australia cant play good spin & swing and seam

  • on February 18, 2014, 15:48 GMT

    A green top is what South African bowlers like Steyn and Philander desperately need so that they can confidently bowl full lengths and allow the ball to swing/seam rather than bowling the unnecessary short of length stuff (which they inexplicably resort to nowadays) which will never work for them. Feels so irritating that even Morkel feels they need sub continent like conditions to tame the Aussies. SA curators please play to SA strengths and provide a green top! Seems like ages when I have seen Steyn and Philander swing/seam the ball even in South African conditions (missing even in both tests against India). It is such a delight to see the new ball swing & seam and batsmen edging it to slips..

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on February 18, 2014, 15:30 GMT

    This was probably the best way to go for SA. The Australian's struggled for impact during the Ashes in England last year, where swing & seam are always key as opposed to raw pace & bounce. That said, as Morkel implies: when a certain bowler is firing down 150kph+ thunderbolts, the pitch is perhaps the least of your worries...

    I'd expect Steyn + Morkel to have a much better game this time round. When they last toured England, neither bowler regularly topped 80mph to try and make use of swing and seam. Rather than try and imitate Johnson, I think they should both try this strategy again as it worked really well. Some of the Australian batsmen like Warner have really struggled against the moving ball, but MUST hold your catches given any chances!

    For Australia, Siddle and Lyon might feature amongst the wickets more this time; but that's not to say Johnson and Harris wont give it their all and create a lot of discomfort as usual. Clarke might enjoy here. Can Shaun Marsh impress again?

  • Kirstenfan on February 18, 2014, 15:11 GMT

    Back Vernon to be man of the match, that's my call!

  • on February 18, 2014, 15:00 GMT

    The last 6 games the Aussies have won have had no sideways movement, if you want to beat them leave a green top with low slow bounce. Game over in 3 days.

  • on February 18, 2014, 14:59 GMT

    They will beat Aussies if they leave a green top. Aussies can't play any sort of sideways movement. They can't handle spin (sub continent) or the swinging ball (english york ball in overcast conditions), they prefer bounce. Get's on my nerves watching us play anything that moves a couple degrees.

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  • on February 18, 2014, 14:59 GMT

    They will beat Aussies if they leave a green top. Aussies can't play any sort of sideways movement. They can't handle spin (sub continent) or the swinging ball (english york ball in overcast conditions), they prefer bounce. Get's on my nerves watching us play anything that moves a couple degrees.

  • on February 18, 2014, 15:00 GMT

    The last 6 games the Aussies have won have had no sideways movement, if you want to beat them leave a green top with low slow bounce. Game over in 3 days.

  • Kirstenfan on February 18, 2014, 15:11 GMT

    Back Vernon to be man of the match, that's my call!

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on February 18, 2014, 15:30 GMT

    This was probably the best way to go for SA. The Australian's struggled for impact during the Ashes in England last year, where swing & seam are always key as opposed to raw pace & bounce. That said, as Morkel implies: when a certain bowler is firing down 150kph+ thunderbolts, the pitch is perhaps the least of your worries...

    I'd expect Steyn + Morkel to have a much better game this time round. When they last toured England, neither bowler regularly topped 80mph to try and make use of swing and seam. Rather than try and imitate Johnson, I think they should both try this strategy again as it worked really well. Some of the Australian batsmen like Warner have really struggled against the moving ball, but MUST hold your catches given any chances!

    For Australia, Siddle and Lyon might feature amongst the wickets more this time; but that's not to say Johnson and Harris wont give it their all and create a lot of discomfort as usual. Clarke might enjoy here. Can Shaun Marsh impress again?

  • on February 18, 2014, 15:48 GMT

    A green top is what South African bowlers like Steyn and Philander desperately need so that they can confidently bowl full lengths and allow the ball to swing/seam rather than bowling the unnecessary short of length stuff (which they inexplicably resort to nowadays) which will never work for them. Feels so irritating that even Morkel feels they need sub continent like conditions to tame the Aussies. SA curators please play to SA strengths and provide a green top! Seems like ages when I have seen Steyn and Philander swing/seam the ball even in South African conditions (missing even in both tests against India). It is such a delight to see the new ball swing & seam and batsmen edging it to slips..

  • Lion83 on February 18, 2014, 15:50 GMT

    Australia cant play good spin & swing and seam

  • roger on February 18, 2014, 16:07 GMT

    Since when does the groundsman admit to consulting the home team and taking its order?

  • Bernadino on February 18, 2014, 16:42 GMT

    It is naive to think that a seaming wicket (with or without some pace) will help SA more than Australia. This only makes Siddle and Harris more dangerous. And Johnson has shown the ability to swing the ball at 150 kph under favorable conditions, making him super lethal. The South Africans need to be very careful what they ask for because, good as they are, the Australian pace bowlers are presently the best hunting pack in the world today. Throw in Nathan Lyon, the best spinner on either team, and Australia seem to have the edge all round in bowling no matter what type of pitch is produced. The tourists are a very confident team playing a very aggressive style right now, and I don't see SA bouncing back quickly after their recent mauling.

  • jimmyvida on February 18, 2014, 17:12 GMT

    Need wickets like Bangladesh. Then Johnson will be no problem. In Bangladesh you can go to sleep waiting for the short ball.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 18, 2014, 17:34 GMT

    @Bernadino I'm really interested to see if it swings like they say it will. Sure, Steyn is an awesome swing bowler but MJ is most deadly when he pitches up and gets late swing which he did a lot in the recent ashes series. None of his wickets in the first test were unplayable balls, they were more related to wary batsmen in the top order. When he gets the late swing he becomes genuinely unplayable. Looking forward to it. If it's a greentop Siddle and Harris are also going to be a handful. Might be an incredibly short test match. Hope it's still going on the weekend.