The recently concluded series between Australia and South Africa was meant to be a battle between two much-vaunted bowling attacks. Instead what we saw were three tests of batting, batting and batting.
Did I forget to mention batting?
Only for a brief day and a half of the final test did we see bowlers shape the fortune of a match, and about half of the 20 wickets that fell in the two teams first innings in Perth were due mainly to idiotic batting rather than good bowling.
After the first innings in Perth, the pitch was finally exposed in the second innings to what all good pundits initially thought it to be: a road conducive to good batting. Another road.
Perth was the third Test in a row where the curators prepared a batsmen-friendly pitch. Why?
What benefits were to be had from preparing three flat pitches, two of which at venues where bowlers are traditionally meant to have assistance from the pitch?
Was it good for the development of John Hastings to see Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith have the confidence to expose his stumps, walk across the crease and whip the ball into midwicket since he knew the pitch was going to neutralise the ball?
Was it good for any bowler in Adelaide, where the boundaries are even smaller than normal to get spanked because the pitch was so true for batting?
Was it good for Australian bowlers to bowl an entire fifth day and receive absolutely no assistance from the pitch until the last five overs of the test?
You could easily argue that the pitch, and not just South Africa’s dogged resistance cost Australia the second Test.
The rain and a woefully flat Gabba pitch combined to ensure that there was only ever going to be a draw.
I’m perhaps one of the few who thought twice during this series, when Australia flogged South Africa around the park in Adelaide and the reverse in Perth for six runs an over, that this is a bit ridiculous.
Cricket is meant to be an even contest between bat and ball, not a series of batting exhibitions.
I’m not saying that the bowlers are excused from blame, there were occasions were true tripe was bowled.
But no bowler from either side was able to extract any swing, no bowler was able to get good movement off the pitch and no spinner was able to gain any significant turn – the pitches never broke up.
As much as I like watching a batsman hit a double century, I also like seeing a bowler getting a five-for too. Mitchell Starc was the only Australian bowler to get one, and even then he paid for it with over 150 runs.
Morkel paid much for one in Adelaide also. Contrast that with batsman. Clarke two double centuries, Hussey two centuries, Warner and Cowan one century for Australia.
Amla two centuries, Smith, Kallis, Du Plessis, De Villiers centuries. 12 centuries all up in three tests.
I’m hoping that the pitches for the Sri Lanka tests offer a greater balance between bat and ball.