Unprecedented Conditions at Newlands Leave South Africa in Awe – ‘Day One Pitch Faster Than Ever Seen’

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South Africa were surprised by the pace of the Newlands pitch on the first day of the New Year’s Test. Both stand-in captain Dean Elgar and batting consultant Ashwell Prince stopped short of out-and-out criticism of the pitch. “It (The pitch) generally plays a little bit slower and as a batter you can adjust to that. This one just seemed to get quicker as the session went on,” Elgar told Star Sports . Prince was more strident in his observations, claiming he had “never seen a Newlands pitch like this before,” due to variable bounce and seam movement. He also noted that the bounce was notably different at either end. Elgar came into the match confident in his knowledge of the surface, despite its mottled look. He expected it to retain its bat-first quality and backed the decision at the toss. “If we had arrived here today with overcast conditions, then perhaps (we would have bowled). But we arrived here with blue skies and even though there was a tinge on the surface, I don’t think our batters are ever bothered when there is a bit of bounce on the pitch as long as the bounce is consistent and the movement is consistent,” said Prince. While neither could explain why the pitch behaved so differently to surfaces in the past, India’s attack was credited for their disciplines early on. South Africa’s batters were also encouraged to show more application. Despite his struggles, Elgar refused to label the pitch bad but simply challenging. “For me, it’s all about the balance between bat and ball and it’s a fine line to get that right,” he concluded. “In South Africa, maybe they get a little bit wrong and it is more in favour of the bowler. But as a batter you’ve got to apply yourself and you’ve got to really be mentally hard on yourself to be disciplined.”

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