Gabba pitch concerns overblown, say bowling greats

“I said, ‘How long does it go on for until it potentially is unsafe?’” Elgar revealed after the match, claiming he did not receive an answer from the umpires. He pointed out that Proteas paceman Anrich Nortje was bowling short balls that were flying over the wicketkeeper’s head to the boundary. There were 19 extras, 15 wides and four byes, in Australia’s winning second-innings total of 4-35.

Gillespie disagreed with Elgar’s assessment.

Dean Elgar was dismissed for three during the opening day of the first Test in Brisbane.Credit:Getty

“I think these calls of a dangerous and disgraceful pitch, they’re a bit far off the mark,” Gillespie said. “I think we saw some pretty good bowling on a surface that was helpful. And I thought we saw some pretty poor batting, to be perfectly honest.

“I thought Travis Head was outstanding. He just went out there and played aggressively.”

New Zealand spinning great Vettori, now Australia’s bowling coach, said he had “seen worse.”

“It was really tough conditions and once in a while you don’t mind that. As a bowling group you don’t mind to see it,” Vettori said. “Because of the nature of how good those two bowling attacks were it probably embellishes it a little bit.

Former New Zealand spinning great Daniel Vettori is now bowling coach of Australia.

Former New Zealand spinning great Daniel Vettori is now bowling coach of Australia.Credit:Getty Images

“You wouldn’t want to play on it every day, but I think for the occasional Test matches it’s not the worst thing.”

Hughes said he was “jealous” of the opportunity the current bowlers had to operate on such a green pitch, and suggested the opening batsmen in his day, Mark Taylor and Geoff Marsh, had to confront similar conditions at times against the might of the West Indies during the late ’80s and early ’90s.


“You want to contest between bat and ball and both teams have very good pace bowling lineups,” Hughes said. “South Africa had a bit of an iffy batting lineup and our guys struggled a bit, but Travis Head and Steve Smith proved if you were positive, aggressive, then you could score runs on it.”

Lawson claimed making pitches was an art with a “little bit of science thrown in” that left groundsmen at the mercy of the weather.

“That’s actually a good thing. We don’t want to have homogenous wickets. Having variations is terrific,” Lawson said, but claimed all the Brisbane Test pitches he played on were brown, not green.

“Obviously there was too much moisture in that wicket, particularly when you’ve got bowling attacks of that standard.”

Lawson also questioned the batters’ technique in difficult conditions.

“We’ve got modern batting techniques, where everybody plays with their bat a long way from their pads, so they can hit the ball further,” he said.

“Bats and pads aren’t close together anymore, which is how the game used to be played when it was seaming around.”

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