The Melbourne Cricket Ground is under pressure to produce a pitch that delivers a fairer contest between bat and ball in the Boxing Day test between Australia and South Africa.
Australia won the Brisbane test by six wickets as batters struggled on a green-top pitch that was criticised by South Africa’s captain Dean Elgar and earned a below-average rating by the International Cricket Council.
The series opener at the Gabba was over within two days.
🚨 RESULT | AUSTRALIA WIN BY 6 WICKETS
A spirited effort with the ball in the second innings – led by Kagiso Rabada’s 4/13), however, there were just not enough runs on the board as the hosts take a 1-0 lead in the series#AUSvSA #BePartOfIt pic.twitter.com/8wcqf6qEtD
— Proteas Men (@ProteasMenCSA) December 18, 2022
Cricket Australia operations chief Peter Roach says the governing body had no control over MCG curator, Matt Page, and his work on the pitch but would engage with him in the lead-up to the second test which starts on Monday.
Cricket fans have been denied action lasting up to five days, and broadcasters also lost out on advertising revenue.
Last year’s Boxing Day test was over within three days, as Australia thrashed England in a one-sided contest. The Proteas players are going all out to avoid a loss in the second test.
“I would say look, we will just wait and see what we get. I believe you can’t play a game before you are actually in it. Going forward and thinking about what the pitch is going to be like. Is it going to be bad, is it going to be good? I don’t think that’s a good space for us as a team or batsmen to really think about that until you get there and see what it is. I don’t necessarily think they will prepare a pitch like they did last time because it’s been deemed below average, that pitch we just off so I’m sure there’s going to be an effort to make it more fair in terms of bat and ball,” says Proteas batsmen Khaya Zondo.
So far the Protea’s bowling attack has played its part in the opening test, but they have been let down by the batting side. Some of the new players in the team like Khaya Zondo are still trying to adjust to international test cricket.
“I’m relatively new to the squad. Played my first game in England, now we are in Australia. I did think this year for all cricketers or anyone in the national Proteas team it was gonna be a tough year of international cricket. I mean the first series was in New Zealand then I think it was Bangladesh, then we went to England, then we are in Australia. You’ve got some tough competition and it’s a good test to see whether you can handle test cricket as players and that’s for everyone whether it’s a bowler or a batsman,” adds Zondo.
South Africa is still trying to sort out their batting deficiency which gets exposed in every test match they play in.
“The two games that I’ve got I finished in about two days. They have both been hectically very bowling-friendly pitches but I mean you don’t choose the conditions you get to play on as a player. That’s the card we have been dealt with, obviously, I would love a flat track as a batsman. The bowlers would hate it. Sure the more games and opportunities I get I will get on to better batting wickets.”
KEEP GOING KYLE 👏
— Proteas Men (@ProteasMenCSA) December 17, 2022
The South African batsmen must bring their A-Game in the second test against Australia, to avoid a third overall defeat in test cricket after a nine-wicket loss to England in September.
“We must just apply ourselves. Get really focussed, make sure that we are present at the crease all the time. Look, a lot of guys are new to test cricket so there’s obviously new tricks. It’s a different intensity, guys are still trying to get used to that as well and just really focus on the ball and have your soul and mind there and give it your best shot. That’s what I would give to guys, I mean guys have got their own challenges and they have to find a way to work through it,” he says.
Proteas star bowler Kagiso Rabada has praised the team’s bowling effort despite their batting malfunction.