SA vs Ind – 2nd Test – Newlands pitch receives ‘unsatisfactory’ rating and demerit point

The ICC has handed an “unsatisfactory” rating and one demerit point to the pitch that hosted the New Year’s Test between South Africa and India at Newlands in Cape Town.

Cricket South Africa has confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that it will not appeal the sanction, which an official called a “fair” assessment of the surface. On Wednesday, the Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA), the cricket board which runs Newlands, issued a statement saying they will “work closely with Cricket South Africa (CSA) to review the Match Referee’s report thoroughly and identify all areas for improvement.”

The match, which India won by seven wickets, ended in less than five sessions and lasted just 642 balls, which made it the shortest result Test in the game’s history. Fast bowlers dominated the game, extracting seam movement and uneven bounce with new ball and old, and neither team bowled a ball of spin.
ICC match referee Chris Broad handed out the “unsatisfactory” rating after consulting with captains Dean Elgar and Rohit Sharma, both of whom, according to an ICC release, felt the pitch “was below standard”.

“The pitch in Newlands was very difficult to bat on,” Broad said. “The ball bounced quickly and sometimes alarmingly throughout the match, making it difficult to play shots. Several batters were hit on the gloves and many wickets also fell due to the awkward bounce.”

Under the ICC’s monitoring process, pitches and outfields can be rated very good, satisfactory, unsatisfactory, or unfit. One demerit point is awarded to venues for an unsatisfactory rating, and three demerit points for an unfit rating.

Demerit points remain active for a rolling five-year period. A venue stands to be suspended from hosting international cricket for a 12-month period if it accumulates six demerit points, and suspended for 24 months if it reaches a threshold of 12 demerit points.

The sanction is the latest setback for WPCA, which finds itself in financial distress following the construction of an office block in the stadium precinct. While the building has several tenants, WPCA continues to service the debt it incurred to erect the structure and has had to rely on a multi-million Rand bailout from CSA in order to operate this summer. CSA’s funds have been used to ensure the New Year’s Test and the SA20 can take place. WPCA, in their statement, said they are working with CSA and have “committed itself to a comprehensive turnaround strategy to address the recent misfortunes at WPCA, which includes restoring Newlands Cricket Ground to its former glory.”

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