Pakistan coach hits out at pitch after another day of toil against South Africa

Former Proteas coach Arthur is not a happy man having seen his side suffer on day two in Cape Town. (AFP)
Updated 04 January 2019

Pakistan coach hits out at pitch after another day of toil against South Africa

  • Proteas build a commanding first-innings lead at Newlands.
  • Arthur not happy with state of the wicket in first two matches.

CAPE TOWN: Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur criticized the pitches for the first two Tests against South Africa, saying they were not good enough for Test cricket.
With his team facing a series defeat after two days of the second Test at Newlands, Arthur said the quality of pitches had deteriorated in the ten years since he coached the South African team.
On the back of a century by captain Faf du Plessis, South Africa built a winning position, reaching 382 for six, a first innings lead of 205 runs. Du Plessis made a patient 103 and shared a fifth wicket stand of 156 with Temba Bavuma (75). Quinton de Kock made a breezy 55 not out late in the day to reinforce South Africa’s dominance.
Arthur acknowledged that the South African total did not back up his argument about the quality of the pitches but said he did not believe the pitches made for a fair contest.
“I am disappointed. I haven’t been back to South Africa in a cricketing capacity since 2010. The standard of the wickets at Centurion and here hasn’t been good enough for Test cricket,” he said.
He cited inconsistent bounce, with balls rearing out of cracks, which had led to seven stoppages for injuries to batsmen on Friday.
“I can understand it if it gets to day four or five because that’s what happens in Test cricket and so it should, but it shouldn’t make your first innings a lottery.”
Arthur said Du Plessis and Bavuma deserved credit for the way they had batted in the conditions and added that the extra pace of the South African bowlers had been a big factor in Pakistan being bowled out for 177 on the first day.
“The difference is that South Africa bowled at 145 (kilometers an hour) plus and we were at 135 today. Those 10 kilometers on a wicket like this make a significant difference.”
Bavuma said batting conditions had been “challenging and tricky but not impossible.”
He added: “You’ve got to make peace with the fact that you’re going to take a few (balls) on the body.”
Bavuma appeared to have been caught by Azhar Ali at first slip off Mohammad Abbas when he was on three. The on-field umpires gave a “soft” signal of “out” but asked for television umpire Sundaram Ravi to check whether there had been a clean catch. Ravi decided the ball had made contact with the ground while the catch was being taken.
“I wasn’t 100 percent sure, which I was why I stood at the time,” said Bavuma.
The incident was similar to one at a critical stage of the first Test in Centurion, also involving Azhar Ali, when Dean Elgar survived against Shaheen Shah Afridi after Wilson reversed the on-field decision.
Arthur was fined a demerit point after going into the match referee’s room and criticizing Wilson at Centurion but he said Azhar himself had not been sure whether he had made a clean catch. “It was different from last week,” said Arthur.
Du Plessis, out for a pair during South Africa’s six-wicket win in the first Test in Centurion, showed patience and resolve in an innings lasting six minutes short of six hours. He faced 226 balls and hit 13 fours.
He gave a chance on 96 when Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain and wicketkeeper, could not hold a faint glance down the leg side off Abbas.
Abbas bowled a probing line and length but had a largely luckless day, as did Mohammad Amir, who went past the edge of Du Plessis’ bat on several occasions.
Bavuma, who hit a solitary Test century against England three seasons ago, made his 13th half-century before being caught behind off left-armer Afridi, bowling around the wicket. Bavuma faced 162 balls and hit ten fours.
Afridi was the most expensive of the Pakistan bowlers, conceding 112 runs, but he picked up three of the four wickets that fell during the day, including that of Du Plessis on review after umpire Wilson failed to detect a faint edge.

KSA’s martial arts heroine: ‘I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym’

Updated 15 min 24 sec ago

KSA’s martial arts heroine: ‘I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym’

  • Young Saudi triumphant at Open International Tournament despite just two years of training
  • Zahra Al-Qurashi took the gold in the women’s 70 kg category, beating Jordanian Heba Wasfi

JEDDAH: Zahra Al-Qurashi never expected to be where she is today: A gold medal winner in full contact kickboxing at the Open International Tournament for Clubs aged just 21. What started out as a gym class two years ago soon turned into a passion, leading to her victory in Amman on Sunday.

“I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym. I found the class and gave it a try, and decided to keep attending the classes,” she said. “A year ago, I joined Flagboxing Gym, and started training with my coach Grethe (Kraugerud). With her help, I developed my style and I am improving every day.”

Full contact is a discipline of kickboxing where punches and kicks must be delivered to legal areas of the body. According to the World Association for Kickboxing Organizations’ rules, it is legal to attack the front of the head and front and side of the torso, using “ankle-level foot sweeps.” It is prohibited to attack the throat, lower abdomen, back, legs, joints, back of the head and top of the shoulders.

A medal at her first international competition, then, speaks volumes about Al-Qurashi’s tenacity. She took the gold in the women’s 70 kg category, beating Jordanian Heba Wasfi.

“As soon as I entered the ring, everything went blank, I couldn’t hear or see anyone but my opponent, so I don’t really recall hearing my name even,” said Al-Qurashi. “I got a couple of really good kicks and punches, but she was a good opponent. I was in my own zone though, following every move and made sure I didn’t make mistakes.”

Zahra Al-Quraishi, 21, is already a gold medal winner at an international event despite being a virtual rookie in the demanding sport of kickboxing. (Supplied photos)

Hala Al-Hamrani, the owner of Flagboxing Gym in Jeddah, said: “I am over the moon. I have dreamt about this happening for 16 years, ever since I started coaching. My goal was to eventually provide the ladies of this country with an opportunity to compete.”

For approximately two months, Kraugerud, from Norway, oversaw Al-Qurashi’s workouts, adding more sparring, interval training and intense ring practice.

“I’ve had Zahra spar with men, who are bigger and stronger than her, to give her a sense of what to expect in the ring, to give her more confidence and make her mentally prepared,” said Kraugerud. “I was very proud of her as she entered the ring, you could see the respect for the sport reflected in her. We did a really good job at Flag, we really pushed for this together as a team. She’s young, but she’s talented and she will go far.”

Al-Hamrani, a member of the Saudi Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Federation, added: “We got her ready by providing her with the right practice and training. It’s a dream come true and it’s very overwhelming because it was such a long process for something like this to happen. Zahra is an up-and-coming athlete who hopefully has a long future and I’m extremely excited to see what that future holds.”

Abdul Aziz Julaidan, chairman of the Saudi MMA Federation, hailed the result after a tough bout between the two competitors, and thanked Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sport Authority, for the support he had given to the team.

Upon returning to her hometown of Jeddah, Al-Qurashi was greeted by her mother. “I was hugging her and crying and mom, being mom, asked if I was crying because I got hit,” she laughed. “That was her way of saying: I’m proud of you.”