Proteas

Wanderers flirts with international ban

Faf du Plessis (Gallo)
Faf du Plessis (Gallo)

Johannesburg - Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis is not expecting the Wanderers to lose any international cricket following the third Test against India. 

South Africa lost the match by 63 runs, but it was the Wanderers pitch that hogged headlines.

With its inconsistent bounce and wild movement, the strip was a concern from day one, but that concern reached new heights when Dean Elgar was smashed in the face by a Jasprit Bumrah bouncer late on day three. 

That was the final straw for umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould, who decided that conditions had become too dangerous for the batsmen, and when play was suspended with 20 minutes to go in the day the future of the Test was uncertain. 

Eventually, it was decided that play would continue on Saturday morning, but with the International Cricket Council (ICC) set to evaluate the pitch, the Wanderers faces the possibility of serious punishment. 

It would have been just the second time in the history of Test cricket that a match was abandoned due to a pitch being dangerous. 

The issue now becomes what happens post-match when the ICC looks at a report compiled by match referee Andy Pycroft. 

With the ICC having employed a new demerit points system at the beginning of the year, the Wanderers is in hot water. 

Five demerit points means that the venue will not be able to host international cricket for 12 months.

If the pitch is deemed to have been 'poor' by the ICC, the Wanderers will be given three demerit points. 

But, if it is decided that the pitch was 'unfit' for Test cricket, it will be given five demerit points and the year-long been will be imposed immediately. 

The latter situation may be avoided by the fact that the Test match was in fact completed, but with play having been stopped late on Friday because of the conditions it can be argued that, at some point at least, the wicket was dangerous and unfit for Test cricket. 

A ban would be catastrophic for the Wanderers and CSA.

The 'Pink Day', an ODI against India on February 10, is sold out already. The venue will also host a T20I against India on February 18 and the fourth Test against Australia on March 30. 

Du Plessis, though, is hoping for the best.

"Look I think because we finished the game, I don’t think that will happen," he said of a possible ban.

"I understand the demerit points if the game was called off, or if it was an absolute stinker that lasted two days, then your demerit points would get a bit more.

"So I assume that even if this pitch was rated poorly, you’d still be able to come back here for Test cricket."

The wicket also received criticism from a number of critics and former professionals, with West Indian great Michael Holding leading the chorus of disapproval by calling for the match to be abandoned. 

 

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