AUS vs SA | Gabba pitch receives one demerit point after match referee deems pitch used in first Test 'below average'

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The Gabba has officially been handed a demerit point to its name following a historic first Test that ended in just two days as bowlers dominated the roost. The pace-friendly track was said to not produce an "even contest between bat and ball" by the match referee owing to the grass on the surface.

The International Cricket Council released its pitch report on Tuesday for the pitch used in the first Test between Australia and South Africa at the Gabba in Brisbane where it labeled the playing surface as "below average." The rating resulted in a demerit point for the venue as the trend of a decreasing rating for the summer Test since 2019 continued for the historic arena. The match referee for the encounter, Richie Richardson, stated the pitch was too favourable for the bowlers, thereby making it unfit for the standard of Test cricket desired by cricket's official global governing body.

“Overall, the Gabba pitch for this Test match was too much in favour of the bowlers,” Richardson was quoted saying by cricket.com.au.

A pitch can also be labelled as 'poor' or 'unfit' by the ICC, leading to three and five demerit points respectively. Every demerit point expires in five years and once a ground accumulates five points, it is banned from hosting international cricket for the period.

“There was extra bounce and occasional excessive seam movement. The odd delivery also kept low on the second day, making it very difficult for batters to build partnerships I found the pitch to be “below average” as per the ICC guidelines since it was not an even contest between bat and ball,” Richardson added.

The clash saw the hosts emerge triumphant by six wickets but not before 34 batters had fallen victim across two days and just 144 overs, with every wicket worth less than 15 runs. It was only the second time a Test in Australia had produced a result before the third day and the first time since World War II. Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting had ahead of the game revealed it was the greenest Gabba track he had ever witnessed while Proteas skipper Dean Elgar labelled the pitch as "potentially unsafe".

The Gabba pitch has raised concerns regarding the track that will be on offer at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as well, where South Africa will aim to level the series when they take on the Kangaroos in the Boxing Day Test. 

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