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'Gabba pitch faces ICC sanction after two-day South Africa rout

Updated: Dec 21, 2022

Australian batter Usman Khawaja is hit by a Kagiso Rabada bouncer in Brisbane

Australia's men won the first of three Test cricket matches against South Africa on an unusually green Brisbane pitch that has drawn comparisons with pitches sanctioned by cricket's ruling body in the subcontinent.

Australia went 1-0 up in the three-Test series on Sunday as 34 wickets tumbled in six sessions of play.

South Africa captain Dean Elgar slammed the pitch as dangerous and said he asked the umpires how much longer the match should go until it was deemed unsafe:

"I don't think it was a very good Test wicket.
"I did ask the umpires when KG (Kagiso Rabada) got (Travis) Head out down leg. 
"I said, 'How long does it go on for until it potentially is unsafe?'. (Anrich) Nortje was bowling those short ones that were flying over our heads.
"I know the game was dead and buried. It was never to try and change (the result) or to put a halt to the game."

Australia scored the winning runs when a Nortje bouncer went over towering Cameron Green's head to the boundary for four byes.

In early 2021 the Ahmedabad pitch on which India beat England inside two days avoided ICC punishment after being rated 'average' by match referee Javagal Srinath. That came saw 30 wickets fall in 842 balls, according to cricketing almanac Wisden. By contrast, the 'Gabba saw 34 wickets fall in 867 balls.

Former Indian great Virender Sehwag tweeted on Sunday:

The last time Australia won a Test in less than two days was in 2002 when Steve Waugh's team dismissed Pakistan for 59 and 53 in Sharjah.

The only previous two-day Test played in Australia was in 1931 when the hosts beat West Indies by an innings in Melbourne.

The Gabba pitch is sure to be thoroughly reviewed by the ICC, with "disappointed" curator David Sandurski admitting fault for how the pitch was prepared, telling NewsCorp:

"No-one wants to have a two day Test.
"All the signs in the preparation pointed towards it being a reasonable wicket.
"But having said that, I have been around for a long time and I have to be better than that as well. I have to own that."

Australia captain Pat Cummins was bemused with Elgar's assessment but said a two-day Test "probably isn't ideal":

"If you're going to lose the match, you'd probably try anything, wouldn't you?
"It was fine. There was some sideways movement, a little bit of up and down bounce.
"It was certainly tricky."

The test series focus switches to Melbourne's MCG for the traditional Boxing Day Test with paceman Josh Hazlewood looking to push his way back into the lineup returning from injury, possibly at the expense of Scott Boland despite taking 4-42 in the Brisbane Test.

South Africa's terrible loss saw them fall 1 place on the ICC World Test Championship points table to third, behind India now on 87 points and both well behind Australia, on 108.


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