Faf exploits home advantage
After the Newlands test in Cape Town I was delighted to read Faf's comments regarding the pitch.
Du Plessis praised the test track, saying it was perfect for the Proteas to exploit their strengths at home.
Faf said: “I’m really big on that, that’s one of the 1 or 2% things you add on, getting the conditions we want at home and it’s something I will scream at the top of my lungs if needs be. Too many times, overseas teams have come here and get pitches that suit them, and we don’t get that overseas."
I have been waiting about a decade for a captain to publicly state his intentions regarding the pitch preparation for a test match and most importantly then to be fully supported by all concerned.
A number of captains before Faf have requested that home advantage conditions are introduced for tests when teams arrive in South Africa, but very few have been able to get it right.
There were a number of factors in play that defeated those previous requests, namely corporate or administrator demands, last minute indecision, and in some rare cases the inadequacies of the ground staff.
I firmly believe that home advantage in tests is one ace in the pack that the South African captain can activate and should enforce more. I also have zero issue with other teams around the cricketing globe doing the same.
Conditions for test cricket in South Africa are unique and considered among the toughest due to the vastly different characteristics of the premier grounds. The willing pitches that incentivise both pace and seam, when prepared to assist such, can catch many a team unawares. Any team not familiar with that, or a team that does not prepare sufficiently, will fall extremely short.
India, for one, make things extremely difficult for touring teams. South Africa's last tour there was testament to that, as it will be with Australia's looming four-test tour of that invigorating cricket-crazy country. Sri Lanka is another cricketing nation that ensures home conditions favour them.
In this Sri Lankan series the South African captain and coach in cohesion with the head groundsman have made things very difficult for the tourists.
The grass left on the pitch has served two purposes. Firstly it has made batting tough for the visitors who are used to barren tracks that do not bounce or seam. Secondly, because the pitches have had a healthy covering of grass, they have not allowed Sri Lanka's best bowler, Rangana Herath to get his teeth into the series at all. He has not extracted any considerable spin as he does at home, and the Proteas have used their feet to challenge him at every opportunity.
It's the Wanderers next and that pitch can be a real handful if grass is left on that surface and overhead conditions suit. It always encourages the quicker bowlers and again that will be exactly what Faf will want.
Bring on the bouncing battle at the Bullring!