Runs abroad, but not at home

2012-07-28 14:53

Khanyiso Tshwaku ponders the possible causes behind South African batsmen performing better on tour than in their own backyards

Batting in South Africa is not the easiest of occupations.

The pitches, especially in Durban and Joburg, are not the green mambas they were in the days of isolation.

Because of our 22-year exclusion from the sport, South Africa’s major Test grounds have seen much less cricket than those overseas.

Of our major Test grounds, only Newlands and Kingsmead come remotely close to breaching the 300.

The highest Test score at Newlands is owned by former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming, who compiled 262 on a laboured autumn track.

The Test is also famous for Amla’s maiden century. Kingsmead is known for Gary Kirsten’s epic 275 in the last Test of the previous millennium.

St George’s Park’s highest individual score is 196, scored by Herschelle Gibbs in 2000, while 214 scored by Australian Greg Blewett is the highest at the Wanderers.

Discounting Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, New Zealand is the only other major Test-playing nation without a triple centurion or a triple century scored on its soil.

Like South Africa, this can be attributed to the overly friendly bowling conditions there.

New Zealand’s highest Test score of 299 is owned by Martin Crowe.

The difficulties faced by touring and even home batsmen is illustrated in the comparatively low averages.

AB de Villiers’, Graeme Smith’s and Amla’s home averages are lower than they are away.

The trio average 60, 55 and 58 away, while they only average 40, 44 and 43 respectively at home*.

This is one of the reasons why the Proteas have not lost away from home in six years.

Amla has an even more treacherous record at his Kingsmead home ground, where he has not yet scored even a century.

Jacques Kallis fares better at home and has more or less an equal average away, except for in England, where he averaged a measly 29 before his unbeaten 182 at the Oval last week, as compared to a career average of 57.

The scoring difficulties filter down to first-class level, where the highest individual score is owned by Highveld Lions opener Stephen Cook.

He made 390 against the Warriors on a flat track.

If singled out among its main Test competitors, sans the Asian sides, South Africa does not have first-class quadruple century potential.

South Africa is definitely not the easiest place to bat in.

* Average statistics courtesy of espncricinfo.com

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