Faf du Plessis believes that the invention of the ICC World Test Championship means that pitches are now unlikely to be produced in a way that gives the home side a massive advantage. This, he believes, is something that can only be good for the game in the long run.
Things Are Different Now
South Africa last toured India in 2015 and they had to try and play on rank turners. They couldn’t adapt to the extremely tricky conditions and lost two of the tests in just three days. The ICC referee would later describe the playing conditions for the third test at Nagpur as poor, but that admittance didn’t prevent the Saffers from losing their first away series in nine years and their coveted place at the top of the world rankings.
They didn’t forget this, and when India was touring South Africa in 2017, they made sure that the Indians were greeted with pitches that would provide extra pace, bounce, and movement. Like with the previous series, the pitch that was used for the third test (The Wanderers) was described as poor by the ICC referee in charge. South Africa would go on to win the series 2-1.
However, Du Plessis believed that things are different now because if a pitch is deemed to be unfair during a World Test Championship match, then the home side will be deducted points. In the past, there were no points to lose. The only thing that could happen was the stadium being banned from hosting test cricket for a period of time, so teams were not really too bothered if they were penalized for an unfair pitch just as long as they managed to pick up the win.
No Team Will Want to Risk Losing Valuable Points
It is so tricky to win away from home in test cricket nowadays, so all teams know the importance of winning their home matches. If you cannot pick up points at home, then you really have no hope of finishing in the top two and contesting the final.
Therefore, teams will almost certainly not want to run the risk of preparing pitches that favour them, just in case the ICC comes down hard on them and dock some valuable points.
This Was Clearly Seen in the First Test Championship Test between the Two Sides
The first test took place at Visakhapatnam from the 2nd to the 6th of October, 2019. The pitch was slow to start with, then flattened out a bit, and then started to turn as the game wore on. It was possible to score runs and pick up wickets throughout the match, which helped to produce an enthralling encounter. This was a fair pitch for both sides, but India was able to play the conditions better and was able to clinch the win.