Pitch red tape needs to be cut for players’ safety, says Elgar

Dean Elgar receives treatment after being hit on the helmet. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Dean Elgar receives treatment after being hit on the helmet. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

The Proteas opener believes play on the Wanderers ptich should’ve been stopped even before his hit on the helmet.

Dean Elgar has suggested the International Cricket Council (ICC) will need to review and be clearer on their protocols for assessing potentially dangerous pitches.

The tough Proteas opener was at the centre of the storm surrounding the Wanderers’ pitch after he was hit on the helmet towards the end of third day’s play of the third Test against India.

His incident was the most serious of several instances where batsmen were hit on the hand or body due to inconsistent bounce.

It prompted the umpires to stop play prematurely in order for the match officials to determine whether the surface was still suitable to play on.

After an anxious wait, the ICC confirmed on Friday night that play would continue.

Yet Elgar believes it should’ve happened far earlier in the day.

“I do think play should’ve been stopped earlier,” he said on Saturday after South Africa’s 63-run loss.

“On day three, the wicket didn’t play great. Faf (du Plessis) mentioned that the batters got hit a helluva lot more times than usual in this game. If there was a period to call off play, it should’ve been sooner rather than later.”

The 30-year-old specifically cited the death of former Australian batsman Phil Hughes, at the age of 26, in 2014 when he was hit on the helmet as a reason for officials to be far more decisive in their decision-making.

“It’s unfortunate that it took a blow to the head (for action to be taken). We could’ve had another incident of what happened in Australia,” said Elgar.

“There’s a bit of red tape that needs to be addressed. I know people want to watch cricket but we’re humans, we’re not just machines. We’re not just going to accept putting our bodies on the line.”

He describe the moment as “freakish”.

“I know what was spoken about the pitch throughout the day. It was a freakish moment. I’ve faced a lot of fast bowlers before and I know the Wanderers wicket does have steep bounce but I’ve never experienced it like that,” said Elgar.

“I don’t think I would’ve been able to play it any better. If it was that short on a wicket of normal bounce, it would’ve gone way over my head and given me some time to get out of the way. It was a freak moment and at least sanity prevailed after that.”

Captain Du Plessis said he only started to think the pitch might be dangerous after Elgar’s incident but admitted the surface played well again on Saturday.


Pitch drama explained: The Wanderers is on thin ice

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