The Hack: Pitches copping plenty of flak

When you host a braai at your house it comes with a number of responsibilities.

It’s up to you to light the coals, get the snacks ready and ensure that there’s enough ice to keep the beverages close. It goes without saying that the tongs are also found in your hand when the cuts go onto the fire.

Heaven forbid someone assumes the responsibility without asking. One man’s medium is another man’s rare.

It’s probably a very crude example to use but what’s the difference between the scenario above and the pitches that the Proteas have encountered during the Test series against India?

That’s what being the home side is about, tailoring conditions to suit your game. If the spinners are India’s strongest part of their Test arsenal then why should they prepare strips that give the Proteas seamers a sniff?

You think England are bracing themselves for turners when they arrive here in a few weeks? No chance. They’ve turned the ball machine up high and are working on hooking and pulling the ball. It’s going to be quick and it’s going to bounce.

There have been plenty of opinions about conditions as play unfolded in the three days of the Nagpur Test and Russell Domingo chose the diplomatic role when asked his opinion after day two when his side ended on 32/2.

Yes, conditions haven’t been ideal and I agree that the fact that both sides have struggled, the low scores tell us that, but at the same time the application hasn’t been too great.

Test cricket isn’t supposed to be easy. Every run should be earned. Loose deliveries given the treatment by batsmen with classic stroke play. Wickets are like gold and batsmen need to be alert. It’s a proper test of skill and mental fortitude.

Let’s be honest, the Proteas haven’t been able to deal with spin in this series. Some of the decision-making has been poor and on the flip side our spinners weren’t as effective as they could have been.

They leaked runs at times which allowed any sort of pressure on the Indian batsmen to dissipate.

It was admirable to see Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla grind it out yesterday morning. Their approach required a massive effort and they should receive kudos for that. They kept South Africa in the game with that gritty stand.

In fact, their effort started to say public opinion on Twitter as  the words belief and hope started to appear. For a period there were some who believed that things could turn, pun intended, and that the result could be saved.

Then Amla got out, Du Plessis followed and that was that. A first away series loss in nine years.

It’s never nice to see your side lose but it happens. India’s spinners had our measure and a bit of assistance. In India.

This series will serve as a lesson especially when you consider the relative inexperience of a number of the playing XI in these conditions.

There’s a reason why Dorothy boldly proclaims in the Wizard of Oz that “there’s no place like home”.

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