South African Invitation XI v Indians, Benoni December 12, 2013

Benoni drying up for tour match


Benoni has received its entire year's rainfall in the last three weeks with 800 milimetres pouring down on the city and a tenth of that in the last two days. Despite that, Willowmoore Park groundsman Brendon Frost is confident his ground will be ready for India's two-day tour match starting Friday. 

Frost and his team have spent the last week working from 5:30am to 7pm in an effort to ensure both the pitch and outfield are fit for play. Frost is already satisfied with the condition of the first and hopes that with only light showers forecast later on Thursday, the second will be all set by the morning. 

"It has been quite a mission to get it up to standard but I'd say we're 90% there," Frost told ESPNcricinfo. "The pitch is nice and hard with an evening covering of grass so I'm happy with that. It's the outfield that's a bit of a concern because there are some places where it's a bit soft." 

Drainage facilities at South African stadiums are known for their high quality. Water disappeared off both the SuperSport Park and Kingsmead surfaces almost as it landed but Willowmoore Park's is not as sophisticated. As a venue that does not host Tests and is the second home of the Titans, it does not get the same level of maintenance as bigger grounds, but Frost was still pleased with the way it has dried out so far. 

"Two days ago, it was like one big dam," he said. "Now there are only one or two patches that we are worried about. We're using all the machines and bringing some extra soil in just to get it stable." Like SuperSport Park's Hilbert Smit, Frost used a tent to work on the pitch and is now making the super sopper work overtime to dry the outfield. 

In South African domestic cricket circles, Willowmoore Park is known as a ground that can sometimes be too wet to play on, even if match day is dry but it has rained in the lead up. Last season, there was one such occasion but it has fared better this summer. 

None of the franchise one-day cup matches or the provincial three-day games were affected by rain and only one provincial one-day cup match was abandoned to rain. The first-class fixture at the ground, played 10 days ago, was rained on but even after heavy downpours the teams got on the park. 

Both the Titans and the Cape Cobras scored over 400 runs in their innings, an indication that despite the weather, the track was good for batting. Frost expects much of the same over the course of the next two days. "We've just been asked to prepare a decent cricket wicket," he said. "If there is something for the bowlers then it's there but if batsmen are prepared to work hard, there will be runs." 

That will come as welcome news to India, who are short on batting time and form, going into the series. Their much vaunted line-up failed in the first two ODIs and did not get the opportunity to bat in the third. With adjusting to conditions, especially pace and bounce, the major talking point, they will want to make the most of the next two days. 

Although South Africa's Invitation XI is not made up of all of their next-best players, India should still face decent opposition. Beuran Hendricks from the Cobras and Hardus Viljoen from the Lions are the two quicks they will be looking out for with Stephen Cook and Stiaan van Zyl the two local batsmen who will want to make an impression.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Afsar on December 13, 2013, 19:45 GMT

    Why CSA selected Benoni when the drainage system is so bad in that ground and also its raining from 3 weeks, they could have moved to another ground with better ground facility. This seems like deliberate move from CSA to deny match practice. what a shame CSA!

  • A on December 13, 2013, 13:00 GMT

    This is a very strong SA A team. Much the same as the India and Aus A tours. Pity those were played in winter where in the highveld there is no chance of anything but extremely flat wickets - as indicated by big scores by Elgar, Dhawan, Warner etc. Pity de Lange isn't playing, we could have two frontline fast bowlers cranking it into the 150s and some really neat left hand drift from Hendricks .. as view of a future test line-up. Sadly de Lange will probably never get there due to his re-occurring injuries.

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2013, 11:49 GMT

    Sudhir ..while complaining about the pitches we forget that SA scored around 300 or more on the same tracks.May be lack of discipline from the bowlers.But batsman cant hide for their lack of application.And I wonder why capt cool needs to persist with Yuvi and Raina as if the middle order positions are their birth right

  • Raghu on December 13, 2013, 11:10 GMT

    South Africa really trying their best to keep series going. Better they could have cancelled the series. We have to admit the fact that South Africa being the Champion Test side deserves much more than 2 Test series. ICC council should be powered enough to implement 2 four day tour games followed by 4-5 test match series between top 6 teams. 5 ODIs and 2 T20s in bilateral series is more than enough. A tour should be a complete tour.

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2013, 7:28 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa....I guess Indians are complaining of wickets not suitable for ODI cricket, and wickets suiting heavily the local teams.......wish they had given similar type of wickets given to PAK, maybe it would be a different story then.....anyways at this level one should not be complaining abt wickets, reality is that Indians were hammered left and right.....hope they have woken up from their dream.....and start competing

  • Android on December 12, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    who will be playing ? in the indians side? is it like rohit dhawan kohlietc?

  • Gavin on December 12, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    The thing is, the last thing they need now is a flat road to score loads of runs on. That will not prepare them well for the Wanderers at all. They would do better to go to a green top net and face 1000 balls at 95mph from the bowling machine imo.

  • greig on December 12, 2013, 15:03 GMT

    Both domestic SA teams scored over 400 runs each so Indian batsmen should feel more comfortable. Here in SA we have pitches which favour batting AND bowling. Complaints from some fans that SA only has spicy pitches was amusing consideringSA racked up over 300 runs in the games.

  • Sriram on December 12, 2013, 14:47 GMT

    Hendricks was the pick against India A and he did trouble both India A and if i recollect well Aus A (?), the question is if its a flat track to negate any practise for Indian batsmen

  • Dummy4 on December 12, 2013, 14:44 GMT

    No doubt SA is a world class team whom every team dreams of beating, but I still feel they are in their own bubble....likewise the Indian bubble.....but they have at least won some world tournaments recently with their popgun which SA r yet to prove their mettle with a powerhouse team......

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