Columnists 31.1.2018 01:50 pm

Comedy of errors at Wanderers not funny

Jaco van der Merwe.

Jaco van der Merwe.

There has been a lot a finger-pointing at the Wanderers pitch over the last week, with the surface misbehaving badly during the third Test between the Proteas and India.

But the playing strip in actual fact is just one of many silly things that has left all the role-players around the Test with egg on their faces.

If you add dodgy team selection and the feeble way in which the Proteas surrendered to the pitch conundrum, it was nothing but a comedy of errors.

The sad part is, they were flying after clinching the series in Centurion and set their sights on an unprecedented clean sweep.

But almost overnight, things fell apart.

Let’s start with the much-debated pitch.

It has been reiterated by the Proteas camp that they requested “pace and bounce” for the third Test.

Seriously?

Pace and bounce at the Wanderers?

Isn’t that a bit like Zinedine Zidane telling Cristiano Ronaldo to aim for the goal when he is ready to shoot?

The Wanderers is renowned for its bounce and good carry with very little lateral movement.

It’s no place for spinners, backed up by the fact that both sides dropped their specialist tweaker.

Cricket South Africa statistician Andrew Samson pointed out on radio last week that the Wanderers holds the record for the least number of balls per wicket for all grounds around the world that have hosted more than 10 Tests since 2000.

Doesn’t this mean that the groundstaff should have just been left alone to do what they do best?

In my book, sending unnecessary requests can only lead to them trying too hard to please and messing up in the process.

Back to team selection. If you had the luxury of filling the vacancy Keshav Maharaj left, why select a bowling all-rounder for the job in Andile Phehlukwayo when you knew that Quinton de Kock doesn’t know right now which side the front of his bat is?

Why did the selectors feel the need for a fifth seaming option on the sporty surface they had hoped for when adding a seventh batsman was overdue?

Especially after their four-prong pace battery rolled the Indians on a Centurion pitch summed up as something more suitable to the subcontinent.

Surely then you rely on the very same personnel to get 20 wickets at the Wanderers again and use the replacement wisely in strengthening the batting.

And predictably the four quicks could have wrapped up the Indian innings without Phehlukwayo having a bowl if they didn’t spill all those chances on the first day.

Think of the numerous dropped catches, Vernon Philander’s noball wicket and Lungi Ngidi not reviewing a turned-down leg before appeal that was clearly hitting the stumps.

And what rounded off the overall disappointment is Dean Elgar and the team management’s refusal to take ownership of his poor judgment when he was struck on the helmet by a short ball which almost forced the umpires to abandon the Test on the third day.

Yes, there was plenty of irregular bounce before Elgar was struck, but ironically that delivery by Jasprit Bumrah behaved just like his previous short-pitched ones as shown by the broadcaster.

It was a poor shot and even poorer that they didn’t admit to it.

MacMillan Dictionary describes a comedy of errors as being “a situation so full of silly mistakes and problems that it is funny”.

Sorry, I fail to see the humour here.

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