India lost their first two tests in South Africa which resulted in Virat Kohli to draw heavy criticism from all corners of the world. However, former South African cricketing great Graeme Pollock praised the Indian skipper for not blaming the South African pitches, and owning his team’s faults like a true sportsperson.
With the 135 run win at the Centurion, South Africa brought India’s run of nine consecutive wins to a screeching halt. The visitors lost both the matches in double quick time as the South African pacers hardly took any time to wipe out the Indian batting line-up in the 4th innings.
However, Captain Kohli even after losing the series refused to blame the pitches for their loss, rather he asked his players to be hard on themselves and think what they could have done differently in these 2 matches. Kohli’s comments blaming his own players rather than pitch took a lot of cricket fans and pundits by surprise.
Many cricketing greats were impressed with the maturity shown by recently crowned ICC Player of the Year. But the current and former players didn’t shy away from criticising the state of the two pitches that were offered for the first 2 test matches.
Graeme Pollock, who played around 23 tests for South Africa was highly impressed with Kohli but was infuriated with the condition of the pitches that were on offer. He spoke to Mirror and said,
“It was a wonderful gesture by the Indian team that they did not complain about the surfaces here. When a game ends in three or four days, you tend to say that probably something is wrong with the wicket. It was a very fine gesture by Virat Kohli and India by not criticising the wickets. I can remember when India would win a Test in two, three or four days, there were a lot of complaints about the turning wickets. Not to have criticism here was a very fine exhibition of sportsmanship.”
It’s not only the ex-cricketers who have come out criticizing the pitches in Newlands and Centurion but even the current crop of players have made their displeasure pretty evident. South African captain Faf Du Plessis speaking to local news outlet said, “I was very concerned when I got here leading up to the Test. It did not look like the Centurion pitch I know and that is a concern to be honest. I am very honest about good things when it is right and this was an opportunity that we missed.”
The 1st test match between South Africa and India ended in actually 3 days as the 3rd day’s play was completely rained off. While the 2nd test match ended on the morning of the 5th day. The state of the pitches in these two matches hampered the chance of any quality play that we have come to expect from these two teams. Frustrated with the lack of competition between bat and ball, Pollock was quick to give his opinion.
He said, “The quality of the players in both sides was good but the quality of cricket was not. Kohli played a wonderful innings, AB did well too but you look at a guy like Faf, who struggled for runs for many hours to make an impact there. It was not easy to bat. The tall South African bowlers were over the top, bowling short of a length. Centurion has been a very good Test venue. It is surprising that the scores were as low as they have been, despite there being some very good players around. I saw Faf’s comments. It was no good for anybody.”
“I hope the wicket in Johannesburg on Wednesday will be good and ensure quality cricket. I hope to see some really good cricket from two quality teams and players.”
Pollock believes that it could have been the rain on Day 3 of the 1st test match that caused the wicket to deteriorate so quickly. He explained, “The wicket in Cape Town was not up to the Test standards. The covers over the wicket made a huge difference in the first Test. It is amazing that the Test lasted for only three days. It normally turns probably on third, fourth and fifth days. But because the covers were on the whole day (third day), the grass obviously prepped up a little bit. It became unplayable.”
During the final few minutes of his conversation, Pollock took time out to praise the Indian captain, who has been in fantastic form for the past couple of years. “I would rate him as the Number 1 Test batsman in the world, he is ahead of the rest. He is very professional, very nice technique, a disciplined player. There may be one or two guys who can be rated as good in other formats. AB de Villiers comes close to him but he may be a little bit better in the One-day games,” concluded Pollock in the end.