Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar has called for neutral pitch curators in cricket to avoid tracks such as the one at the Wanderers, which hosted the third and final Test between South Africa and India.
The pitch was rated as “poor” by the International Cricket Council and received three demerit points after offering variable bounce and movement as the Test match progressed. If the pitch receives two more demerit points in the next five years, it could be banned for a year.
India won the match by 63 runs in the end but not before the Test was close to being called off on the third day after a Jasprit Bumrah delivery hit South Africa opener Dean Elgar on the helmet.
“Wickets in South Africa were way too poor,” Vengsarkar was quoted as saying by the Times of India. “When the ICC has neutral umpires [in Tests], it’s time for neutral curators too. The third Test match was close to being called off. The pitch was dangerous and would have harmed the players physically. There could have been fatal injuries. Such wickets should not be allowed anywhere.”
South Africa were not the only country that Vengsarkar pulled up on the matter. He also said that India have been guilty of preparing pitches that suit their strength, which is spin bowling, adding that it’s not a good advertisement for Test cricket.
“People always complain when they tour India that they have to face under-prepared wickets,” he said. “You see Ravichandran Ashwin bowling the first over in a Test match which is very disappointing. Ashwin should come into play in the fourth or fifth day. When he is bowling the first over, it’s not good advertisement for Test cricket.”
Vengsarkar added that the fans who pay for tickets should get their money’s worth. “If you want to attract crowds, you must have a wicket with bounce which helps batsmen, [fast] bowlers and spinners.”
Despite the win in Johannesburg, India lost the Test series 1-2 and Vengsarkar put it down to a batting failure, saying there were opportunities for Virat Kohli’s team to win the first two matches as well.
“If the batsmen had applied themselves, results would have been different,” he said. “The bowlers did an excellent job right through.”
Vengsarkar added that India were overconfident before going to South Africa after a solid 2017 at home. “To be honest, we went to South Africa with a lot of overconfidence because we did so well the entire year when we were playing at home and winning everything,” he said.
The former India chief selector also said that India could have won the series had it involved five matches instead of three.