Proteas’ Ashwell Prince bemoans inconsistent bounce on Newlands pitch

Mukesh Kumar of India during day one of the International Test Series 2023/24 game between South Africa and India at Newlands Cricket Ground

The Indian pace attack walked away with 13 South African wickets on Wednesday, while the Kagiso Rabada-led bowling unit took 10 Indian wickets in similar fashion. Seen here: Mukesh Kumar of India during day one of the second Test against South Africa at Newlands Cricket Ground on 3 January 2024. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Published Jan 4, 2024


On any day of a Test match questions will be posed about the legitimacy of the wicket if and when 23 wickets fall on a single day, which is precisely what transpired on the opening day of the New Year’s Test at Newlands Stadium on Wednesday.

The India pace attack walked away with 13 Proteas wickets on Wednesday, while the Kagiso Rabada-led bowling unit took 10 Indian wickets in similar fashion.

Speaking after the day’s play, SA batting consultant Ashwell Prince emphasised the unexpected behaviour of the Newlands pitch and also praised the Indian quicks for bowling the hosts out for 55 in the first innings.

“We have to give credit to the Indian bowlers. (Mohammed) Siraj probably bowled one of the spells of his life. Two quality bowlers (Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah), favourable conditions, that’s what you get,” said Prince.

Never seen a pitch like that on day one

“I’ve obviously played a lot of cricket on this ground, also being a coach here, I’ve never seen a pitch be that quick on day one, usually it speeds up on day two I don’t think as batters you mind the pace in the wicket, but then you need the bounce in the wicket to be consistent.

“The bounce was a little bit inconsistent I think, some keeping low, some bouncing steep. You give a quality bowling line-up a bowler friendly wicket and they can do some serious damage.

“The balls that were pitched up today and the amount of balls that both keepers took above their heads were quite extensive now.”

As a packed Newlands watched wickets tumble, it resembled Vernon Philander’s debut in 2011 where 23 wickets fell in a single day courtesy of Philander and Australian All-rounder Shane Watson.

However, Prince reminded everyone how different that Test match was in that those wickets fell on day two and how the conditions on that day were not as complete a surprise as Wednesday’s conditions were.

“I think it’s completely different,” Prince referenced Day one to the 2011 Test.

“That was mid game when all of that started happening, that wasn’t on day one. Shane Watson bowled a fantastic spell then Vernon Philander on debut.

“I wouldn’t say that the wicket that day was doing things I’d never seen, some of the things I’ve seen today I’ve never seen at Newlands before.”

Dean Elgar bows out

As the big fast bowlers were enjoying a dream wicket, Dean Elgar bowed out of Test cricket, playing both his final innings on a single day. In almost similar fashion to his debut where he bagged a pair of ducks, Elgar only managed 16 runs in his final Test following his match-winning 185 in Centurion last week.

In almost identical fashion, Tristan Stubbs started his Test match journey with only 25 balls for his five runs on debut.

Prince mentioned how the management encourage players to be completely themselves.

“We speak a lot about players being true to themselves and being the best versions of themselves.

“If a player has got attacking instincts we certainly don’t want to take that away out of them. With saying that, there’s always room for improvement.”


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