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Brisbane pitch earns 'below average' rating from ICC

"It was not an even contest between bat and ball," says Richie Richardson, the match referee for the Test

It was a tough pitch to bat on, as Temba Bavuma illustrates here  •  Associated Press

It was a tough pitch to bat on, as Temba Bavuma illustrates here  •  Associated Press

The Gabba pitch has been given a "below average" rating and handed one demerit point from the ICC after the first Test between Australia and South Africa ended inside two days.
In total, only 866 balls were bowled in the match, which makes it the second-shortest Test ever played in Australia, and 34 wickets fell in that time. Bowlers took a wicket every 25.5 balls, the second-best strike rate in a Test match ever (with a minimum of 30 wickets), and South Africa captain Dean Elgar said afterwards that the surface did not facilitate a "fair contest," between bat and ball. The ICC agreed.
"Overall, the Gabba pitch for this Test match was too much in favour of the bowlers," Richie Richardson, the match referee for the Test, said. "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.
"I found the pitch to be 'below average' as per the ICC guidelines since it was not an even contest between bat and ball."
Richardson, however, did not go as far as Elgar and suggest the surface could have posed a danger to batters.
Elgar had posed the question to Chris Gaffney and Rod Tucker, the on-field umpires, during Australia's second innings when "KG [Kagiso Rabada] got [Travis] Head out down leg… and then [Anrich] Nortje was bowling those short ones that were flying over our heads". But he did not receive an answer on-field.
Australia captain Pat Cummins said there was "no way" the surface was dangerous but acknowledged it was "tricky" to bat on. "Two days probably isn't ideal… personally, I don't mind it if the groundsman err on the greener side occasionally; [I've] played a lot of Tests where they've erred on the flatter side. Think it was the same for both teams," he said after the game.
This is the second time that an Australian pitch has been given a negative rating by the ICC in the last four years. In January 2018, the MCG pitch was rated poor after a draw between Australia and England, in which only 24 wickets fell in five days.
The next Test between Australia and South Africa will start at the MCG on Boxing Day.