CAPE TOWN: Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja reckons more work can be done to improve the standard of cricket pitches in South Africa.
Ramiz, now a TV commentator, expressed this while speaking exclusively to Sport24 after Pakistan’s recent 3-0 Test series defeat to the Proteas in their backyard.
The Pakistani batsmen struggled against the hosts’ pace arsenal and the South African pitches also came under scrutiny during the series, with Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur saying the quality of the wickets had deteriorated since he coached in South Africa.
“I think the pitches used during the [South Africa-Pakistan] Test series were difficult for sure, and especially for the openers. If you have quality fast bowlers then it becomes doubly difficult,” former opening Test batsman Ramiz said when asked to comment on the pitches’ matter.
“At times, it was literally a matter of survival because the ball would jump on a good length. I believe more work can be done to improve the standard of local pitches and because South Africa have such a good bowling attack, I feel they don’t need so much grass on the pitch and variation of bounce.
“It becomes an issue once it starts to go up and down and then it is difficult. It’s fine if the pitch starts to do something on day four or five, but if the pitches start to do something devilish on the last session of day one or on day two then it becomes a question mark,” Ramiz added.
Ramiz believes that improved pitches would also be advantageous for the South African batsmen.”I feel that if South African groundsmen produce good-quality pitches, the hosts’ batting will improve because once you get in on a good deck there is less chance of getting out. During the Test series, even when batsmen were 50 not out they were still struggling to survive and that shouldn’t be the case,” he said.
“I asked Mickey [Arthur] about his comments and he said, ‘On merit I made a statement having been involved with South African cricket and I feel the pitches have gone down in quality.’
“That was his personal view of the pitches, which I agree with, but it was also good how he was deflecting pressure from the Pakistani batsmen,” Ramiz said.
Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2019