Lack of moisture at Kingsmead is playing a role in the low T20 Challenge scores

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Gihahn Cloete of the Dafabet Warriors bowled out by Kagiso Rabada of the Imperial Lions during the CSA T20 Challenge match.
Gihahn Cloete of the Dafabet Warriors bowled out by Kagiso Rabada of the Imperial Lions during the CSA T20 Challenge match.
Darren Stewart
  • Former Dolphins and Proteas all-rounder Jon Kent said a lack of moisture at Kingsmead has played a role in the middling scores in the T20 Challenge.
  • There hasn't been a score of 170 or more in the T20 Challenge and there hasn't been an individual 100.
  • Kent said the changing of pitch behaviour isn't something that's unique to Kingsmead

Former Proteas and Dolphins all-rounder Jon Kent said a measured lack of moisture in the Kingsmead surface has played a role in the middling scores of the T20 Challenge.

When the Knights and the Cape Cobras played to an exciting finish in the Tuesday morning game, it was the first instance of both teams passing 160 in the tournament.

Before that, the highest total batting first was 155 while 159 was the highest total achieved in the chase.

Kent, who played the bulk of his cricket for the Dolphins, said Durban’s unpredictable weather has played a role in the tricky conditions, but the slower and drier pitches have allowed the better batsmen to showcase their superior skills.

“Because there’s often rain around in Durban, there isn’t a lot of moisture in the wicket, but if you look at the changes over 10 years, there’s not as much pace as there used to be. I know there hasn’t been a lot of good words about that particular wicket for the Test series where they’ve said the wicket is sub-continental. When SA lost here to Sri Lanka, Faf du Plessis said the wicket didn’t suit them,” Kent said.

“It’s been a bit of a sore point where the SA Test guys have said the wicket hasn’t suited them, but it’s tough to say what it can be put down to. You can see the better players when they adjust to the surface. You see the better players come through stronger. The borderline players who aren’t of the best of quality might get shown.”

While parochial provincial wickets aren’t the norm in domestic cricket, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Dolphins have adapted better than the other teams with their army of excellent spinners.

The Lions and their pace merchants have also thrived with both sides have yet to drop a game.

Kent said the Dolphins have utilised the conditions better than the others.

“You may think that it may also come down to the home team producing a drier surface that might take turn because they have three very good spinners in their team. It could be a case of them playing to their strengths because they’ve won three from three. So far, it’s working,” Kent said.

While T20 cricket has essentially been about entertainment where the bat has consistently triumphed against the ball, matches where the scales have been even  have also been exciting.

Kent said the absence of high scores was felt, but the change in the nature of pitches isn’t a Kingsmead phenomenon.

“It’s nice to see a team getting the 200s and one guy getting a 100, but those sort of scores will take a fair bit of doing on this surface. From a spectacle perspective, that can be slightly disappointing. However, look at what happened in Potchefstroom during the 1-Day Cup,” Kent said.

“That ground used to be packed with runs, but that pitch’s behaviour has changed. Its par score has come down because it’s taking more turn and it’s up and down.”

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