Proteas coach Ottis Gibson has denied the pitches for the first two Tests in South Africa’s series win over Pakistan have been terrible, saying the surfaces in Sri Lanka last July/August were much worse.
South Africa were hammered by 278 runs and 199 runs as they lost the toss in both Tests in Sri Lanka, but critics of the pitches used in Centurion and Cape Town for the first two Tests against Pakistan have pointed to the inconsistent bounce present from the first day as being undesirable.
“The pitches have not been the worst I’ve ever seen, the ones in Sri Lanka were a lot worse. They were a bit uneven, there’s no denying it, but we showed you can still bat on them. If you were prepared to bat long and stick it out, if you showed fight and resilience then you earned the right to score runs. Every other country prepares pitches to suit their attack.
“Guys have been getting hit in Test cricket for a lot of years, off a length back then too, but they just showed character and stuck to it. Batsmen have had to show a lot of mental strength because of how tough it has been, but Aiden Markram, a couple of times, Faf du Plessis and Dean Elgar have shown that we do score hundreds, tough ones, and that’s what Test cricket has always been about: you work your socks off and then you really deserve your hundred,” Gibson said.
The corollary, of course, is that by constantly playing – and winning – in extreme conditions at home, you do little to prepare yourself for success overseas.
Even with their population of more than a billion, most of them being ultra-passionate cricket fans, India have only become the world’s top-ranked Test nation by starting to win overseas, which they achieved through mastering those conditions as well as ensuring their own facilities prepared their players for foreign surfaces.