DURBAN: South Africa have not asked for quick pitches to be prepared for their four-Test series against Australia, which starts in Durban on Thursday, after the ploy backfired just over a month ago, captain Faf du Plessis said on Wednesday.
"I learnt my lesson," Du Plessis told a news conference after his call for groundsmen to prepare pacey wickets in the three-Test series against India in January saw South Africa lose by 63 runs in the last Test at The Wanderers. The pitch was also criticised by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
"Obviously, when you`re playing against a sub-continent team (Asian), you try to get an advantage somehow but Australia and South Africa are two similar teams," said Du Plessis. "We play in the same conditions. There`s nothing different that we are expecting. We both will play on what we get. We`ve not asked for anything specific."
The wicket for the opening test at Kingsmead is expected to be slow. "The Durban wicket over the last few years has definitely slowed down a bit. That`s the nature of the square. I expect it to be quite slow. It might take a bit of turn. If anything a little tennis-ball bounce," added the South Africa captain, who is back after missing last month`s limited overs contests against India through injury.
Wickets at the next two test venues -- Port Elizabeth and Cape Town -- could also prove slow. But the last test at The Wanderers, which starts on March 30, is expected to significantly favour the quick bowlers, enhanced by being played at altitude, 1,750m above sea level.
Following the India test, The Wanderers deck was labelled "poor" and the ICC imposed a three-demerit points sanction on the Johannesburg venue after play was suspended late on the third day when South Africa batsman Dean Elgar was struck on the helmet by a rising delivery from paceman Jasprit Bumrah.
The match officials cited concerns over the players` safety after numerous batsmen were struck on the body during the Test. The demerit points will remain active for a rolling five-year period and if during that time The Wanderers reaches the threshold of five demerit points, the venue will be banned from staging any international cricket for 12 months.