Doctoring pitches could cost South Africa Test series, says SA former coach

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Doctoring pitches could cost South Africa Test series, says SA former coach

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SportsCafe Desk


Former SA coach Ray Jennings believes that the hosts' attempt to doctor pitches during Tests almost backfired on them as they remained ineffective to India's brilliant pace attack. Though Jennings praised Markram's right values and culture, he still thinks the 23-year-old is not ready for the job.

Apart from India's suicidal batting collapse during the recently-concluded Test series, one other thing that created headlines was South African pitches. While the Centurion pitch had even surprised the SA batsmen after Ravichandran Ashwin bossed the game with immense spin, with many even calling the pitch similar to Indian tracks, the Johannesburg track saw the game interrupted and delayed for its unpredictable nature, which was later deemed dangerous by many. 

After the end of the series, South Africa, quite expectantly, received a lot of criticism for it and the latest name to join the bandwagon is Jennings. The former coach has lashed out at their move of doctoring the pitches stating that South Africa were very close to losing the series which they somehow managed to win 2-1.

Ten years ago, India didn't have any fast bowlers. Now they have so many, starting from Under-19 itself, and the minimum they bowl is 135 which used to be maximum years ago.

Ray Jennings, on India's fast bowling.

"They tried doctoring pitches in the Tests and it was so close that South Africa almost lost the series. Such pitches won't help because India have a great pace attack. Even the spinners will get assistance from seam friendly juiced up pitches," Jennings said as quoted by PTI.

"Ten years ago, India didn't have any fast bowlers. Now they have so many, starting from Under-19 itself, and the minimum they bowl is 135 which used to be maximum years ago."

The ongoing series against India has seen many South African youngsters getting a chance to play, but Jennings sounded quite unhappy with this experimentation of the South African board and has raised questions over South Africa’s strategies for the 2019 World Cup.

"You have to field your best XI at all times and develop a winning culture. You have to take it match by match and series by series, and not look too ahead into the future," he added.

Earlier, South Africa batting coach Dale Benkenstein had stated that the players should learn the art of handling spinners from their Indian counterparts. He had also praised the Indian spin bowling attack comprising Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, who delivered sublime performance in the first two ODIs of the six-match series. 

Jennings agreed to Benkenstein's views and admitted that there is no time to prepare a counter attack for the Indian duo.

"There is nothing to be done in such a short time period. If at this stage, you don't know how to play spin, you just have to live with you incompetence. What is important that you don't freeze up and start eating up deliveries, and then get out.

"David Miller is out of form. JP Duminy is out of form. That doesn't help and it helps more pressure on an inexperienced batting line-up that can't play spin well. Their only chance is to build on the starts. That's why you don't want to send Amla down to the middle. He knows what he has to do and that's to convert those 20-30s into big ones," he explained.

"The wrist spinners are very good. They can even play Test cricket because sometimes in overseas you can struggle to take 20 wickets. They are true IPL products. Thanks to IPL, the fear of playing international cricket has gone away from young Indian players.”

South Africa have also faced an immense shortage of experience in the ongoing ODI series. While AB de Villiers was sidelined with a finger injury for the first three games, it was followed by a fractured finger for skipper Faf du Plessis. Wicketkeeper-opener Quinton de Kock became the latest name to join the list with a bruised wrist.

CSA decided to hand the captaincy to 23-year-old Markram in du Plessis' absence, who clearly failed to cope with things in the 2nd ODI, and Jennings has stated that though Markram is a good captaincy material it is too early to give him the big responsibility. 

"Aiden is captaincy material, indeed. I was the one who handed him the captaincy in the U-19 World Cup (2014). He has the right values and culture. But he is too young and very inexperienced in ODI cricket. You need players to become stable in their game before you hand leadership to them. Look at Kohli. He became captain only when he was a stable batsman," he said. 

In the last 5 IND vs SA ODIs, SA was bowled out twice, while IND was bowled out only once.

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