Hashim Amla is probably not the right guy to ask about the Wanderers pitch in the third Test between the Proteas and India.
While the general feeling is that the surface is once again giving bowlers far too much help, South Africa’s bearded stalwart is diplomatic.
It’s understandable – he’s the guy that made 61 on it.
“It’s a spicy wicket,” he said after Thursday’s second day’s play.
“I don’t think anyone can hide from the fact that you can get out off every ball. By the same token, it’s challenging as a batsman. Sometimes we play on wicket where we can score at will. Here the bowlers are celebrating. It’s difficult to bat on this surface.
“Yet if we’re going to debate on whether this surface is ‘excessive’, it becomes difficult to say. If you’re going to ask a batsman, what do you think he’s going to say?”
Amla’s point is a valid one.
If the cricketing world in general complains about matches being lopsided in favour of the batters, isn’t bowler-friendly conditions a change of scenery?
An element of fairness?
Regardless, Amla is adamant the Proteas haven’t tried to give India a taste of their own medicine by producing pitches that suit them overwhelmingly.
It’s a common practice nowadays on the sub-continent.
“Look, it was very difficult to bat in India (in 2015) and it’s difficult to bat here. The difference is that if you look at the Centurion wicket, it’s actually didn’t suit us one bit,” said Amla.
“And to come out of that game and win in conditions close to what it’s like on the sub-continent was pleasing.”
Possibly the best argument for not being excessively negative about the pitch came in the form of Kagiso Rabada.
Sent in as a nightwatchman on day one, the brilliant fast bowler showed guts and untapped potential with the bat in crafting his 30.
His partnership of 64 for the third wicket with Amla played a major role in keeping the home side afloat.
“He batted very well, he really did his job,” said Amla.
“The element of fortune is relevant a lot more on a pitch like this. There was a lot of play-and-miss but Kagiso kept his intensity, left as well as he could and we even saw some shots of flair later on. He’s slowly turning into a handy batsman.”
Therein lies the crux on the debate of this wicket.
It’s bloody damn difficult to get runs … but it’s not impossible with some luck and application.