Not a case of sour grapes, says South Africa coach after Wanderers pitch controversy
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Not a case of sour grapes, says South Africa coach after Wanderers pitch controversy

South Africa coach Ottis Gibson defended Dean Elgar after he was hit on the helmet on the third day of the third Test against India at Wanderers.

cricket Updated: Jan 27, 2018 10:07 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Johannesburg
Ottis Gibson,Dean Elgar,India vs South Africa
South African batsman Dean Elgar (back) is treated after being hit by a delivery during the third day of the third Test against India at Wanderers.(AFP)

South Africa coach Ottis Gibson maintained that the ball that hit Dean Elgar was from a length spot and that the pitch shouldn’t have behaved like that on a third day. However, there was some debate about the pitch of the ball, with replays showing that it was pitched eight metres from the crease. (India vs South Africa Day 3 highlights | Scorecard)

“Dean went forward and the ball took off from a length. Whether it was 8m or not, even on a third day pitch you are not expecting the ball that pitches at 8m to take off and hit the batsman on the head without the batsman even having the time to take evasive action. At the end of the day the umpires will make a decision, which they did. With regards to where the pitch is at the moment and the decision-making around it, there are four umpires and a match referee and it’s up to them,” he said.

READ | India vs South Africa 3rd Test: Why ICC umpires stopped play on Day 3 at Wanderers

“Before you go on about India batting twice on the same pitch, yes they did. And there were balls that were taking off from a length, and our captain was saying that, ‘I’m not sure that this is fair either.’ So it’s not like we are sour grapes or anything. We felt this morning that when balls were taking off a length it was obviously a little bit tricky and a decision would have to be made, but it’s not our decision to make.”

Asked if the decision to stop the game could have been taken earlier, Gibson said, “When I spoke to Faf at lunch, he said that if a ball is going to hit you on the finger and the bowlers are bowling at 140 and you haven’t got time to react or respond or take evasive action then the umpires have to think that they have to look after player safety. If you think it’s getting a bit dangerous - and the umpires in the middle were saying that before lunch - Faf said, ‘A couple on the fingers we can get away with, but when the ball rears up and hits you on the face then it’s a different situation.”

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With so much focus on the pitch, questions normally arose on why South Africa chose a heavy roller before their second innings. “The heavy roller sort of flattens it out. There were cracks that were opening from the first day, and the more you play on it, those cracks widen. The idea was use the heavy roller to flatten the cracks out. They’ll always open as the match goes on, but then when you have the opportunity you try to iron them out,” he said.

Gibson also said the controversy over the pitch will not cloud their batsmen’s approach towards trying to win this Test. “Once the decision is made, that’s it, and we prepare like we do every morning and we go out and play. The batsmen will try and do their best to bat us to victory. Throughout the whole game on both sides we saw batsmen wearing a few on the body, and we are not complaining. I hope you are not sitting here thinking we are complaining. But obviously Dean got hit in the face when he wasn’t able to take evasive action and there was one before that, that he went forward to that he was going to leave that bounced up and hit him on the hand but again he wasn’t able to take evasive action. So the match referee feels that there’s something for him to look at,” he said.

First Published: Jan 27, 2018 09:23 IST