KNOWS SCORE: Mickey Arthur. Photo: DAVE HUNT/EPA

Ja nee Mickey, when things don’t go your way, it’s easy to slam the conditions you can’t control.

For those who missed it, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur criticised the Newlands pitch after his team was bowled out for just 177 in their first innings of the second Test against the Proteas in the Mother City.

Admittedly Arthur probably has some reason for concern.

The Newlands pitch offered a lot of assistance for fast bowlers, as the pitch at Centurion Park in the first Test which South Africa won by six wickets.

But Arthur and his team would have known this when they prepared for the tour of South Africa.

TON UP: Faf du Plessis on reaching his 100. Photo: RYAN WILKISKY/BACKPAGEPIX

In fact, it was the coach himself that said before the tour that they would be ready for the tough conditions in SA.

Back then he said: “I’ve told our batting group, that they bat better outside the United Arab Emirates than they do in the UAE.

“They batted exceptionally well in England.

"There are some very talented young batters there, who bat on off stump not on leg stump any more, cover the bounce, the pace and swing, they play very, very well in these conditions.”


Then Duanne Olivier arrived and took 11 Pakistan wickets in the first Test as they were bowled out for 181 and 190 respectively.

It was then reported that Arthur slammed his captain afterwards for not having posted better totals to compete with the hosts.

Those who can remember Arthur’s time at the helm of South African cricket between 2005 and 2010 will also recall that the former batsman was reported to have had “differences” with then-captain Graeme Smith.

From these examples, it is clear that Arthur wears his heart on his sleeve.

But does he have a point in saying that South African pitches aren’t good?

I don’t think so.


I think they are perfect for Test matches.

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis, after getting a pair of ducks in the first Test, admitted that it’s tough to bat in Mzansi.

But Du Plessis adjusted his game and realised that he can’t use that as an excuse and top-scored with 103 in South Africa’s first innings at Newlands.

It wasn’t easy, but he passed the test to raise his bat for the three-figure mark.

I have always been of the opinion that batsmen are favoured in modern-day cricket because of the size of the bats.

But I think to nullify that advantage with pitches that help the fast bowlers is perfect - especially for five-day cricket.

What it does is bring back the true battle of bat and ball.

What South Africa proved with their first innings reply of 431 to Pakistan’s 177 is that there is still room for batsmen to perform in the local conditions.

You just need to be brave and mentally strong. It is Test cricket after all.

In Ottis Gibson, South Africa have a coach that was there during the great West Indian fast bowling years.

A time when the likes of Curtley Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Malcolm Marshall and a whole host of other bowlers had batsmen dancing in their crease trying to avoid the ball.

Gibson understands that South Africa have the best fast bowling attack in the world and he will continue to ask for pitches that will help his team.

Travelling to the subcontinent, South African batsmen are the ones that simply can’t adjust to the dusty pitches.

As for the pitch at Newlands, I once again tip my hat to Evan Flint.

After years of serving Newlands as curator, this Test was his last in the Mother City.

Flint will leave for the Bullring at the Wanderers next month, and all of us in Cape Town cricket can just thank the perfect gentleman he is for the hard, and often thankless, work he has done at Newlands.

In the words of Cape Cobras captain Dane Piedt: “I give Evan 10 out of 10.

“That is why the Test matches the past few years have been so outstanding.”

Cobras coach Ashwell Prince added: “He has been outstanding

“The local players know they probably train in the best nets in the country.

"We have got the best training facilities in South Africa and we owe it to Evan and his team.”

Take that Mickey.

[email protected]