Dean Elgar Slams “Unsafe” Gabba Pitch After First Test Loss To Australia

South African captain Dean Elgar criticised an “unsafe” Gabba wicket after his side lost the first Test to Australia inside two days in Brisbane on Sunday. The Australians recorded a six-wicket win over the Proteas late Sunday after 19 wickets fell on the second day on a green pitch that offered plenty of bounce and movement to both teams’ pace attacks. In all, 34 wickets fell in two days, which led Elgar to ask the umpires whether the surface was safe to play on as Australia was edging towards victory.

“I did ask the umpires how long it goes on for before it is essentially unsafe,” he said. “That’s where the umpires’ discretion comes in — it’s not up to us players.”

After 34 wickets toppled inside two days, Elgar described the wicket as a hostile batting track. “The nature of the way it started to play with some seriously steep bounce with the old ball — you’re kind of on a hiding to nothing as a batting group,” he said, adding that the track developed divots on the first day which dried out and caused further problems.

“The divots definitely played a big role with the sideways movement, the up and down and obviously the steep bounce, which is quite something to face,” he said. “And also today the older ball was flying through which really shouldn’t be happening.

With Test cricket struggling for popularity around the world, the South African skipper contended that pitches like the one prepared at the Gabba don’t help. “You’ve got to ask yourself if that’s a good advertisement for this format,” Elgar said.

Australian captain Pat Cummins conceded the wicket was difficult but stressed it was the same for both sides. “It was certainly tricky — two days probably isn’t ideal,” he said.

“There was a lot of sideways movement and today a little bit of up and down bounce as well. Personally I don’t mind if the groundsmen err on the side of a greener surface.”

Cummins disagreed with Elgar that the surface was dangerous. “It was fine,” he said. “There were no balls jumping off a length or anything like that.”

The International Cricket Council could take note of the quality of the Gabba pitch. On Tuesday, the ICC penalised the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Pakistan for preparing a pitch that offered no assistance to the bowlers. The pitch was given a demerit point after yielding 1,786 runs across four innings of the first Test between Pakistan and England.

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