What constitutes a "dangerous" pitch?
Former Indian captains Sourav Ganguly and Sunil Gavaskar, and South Africa's all-time leading Test wicket-taker Shaun Pollock have all been critical of the Wanderers pitch for the third Test between South Africa and India. Indian fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah admitted that they have not played on "such a wicket" while Proteas batsman Hashim Amla termed it as one of the toughest pitches that he has batted on.
In a low-scoring match in which the batsmen have struggled, India are at 100/4 at lunch on day three, leading by 93 runs. On a pitch that has been labeled "challenging" and "dangerous" and saw several batsmen being struck on the fingers and the body, India won the toss and elected to bat first. They were bowled out for 187 on day one but bounced back on day two to dismiss the hosts for 194, conceding just a seven-run lead.
Speaking about the pitch, Pollock said: "If you've got deliveries behaving like this on day two of a Test match it can't be judged a good surface." He also compared this pitch to the 2015 Nagpur wicket, which was rated "poor" by the ICC. Gavaskar echoed his sentiments and added that the pitch was "totally in favor of bowlers".
So, what constitutes a dangerous pitch and what could happen if the pitch is deemed dangerous? Under the MCC Laws, Law 2 deals with the umpires who are the "sole judges of fair and unfair play."
Here is what the law dictates about play being suspended due to dangerous conditions.
2.8 Suspension of play in dangerous or unreasonable circumstances
2.8.1 All references to ground include the pitch. See Law 6.1 (Area of pitch).
2.8.2 The Umpires shall immediately suspend play, or not allow play to start or to recommence, if either umpire considers that the conditions of ground, weather or light, or any other circumstances are either dangerous or unreasonable.
2.8.3 When there is a suspension of play it is the responsibility of the umpires to monitor conditions. They shall make inspections as often as appropriate, unaccompanied by any players or officials. Immediately the umpires together agree that the conditions are no longer dangerous or unreasonable they shall call upon the players to resume play.
If the pitch is deemed to be dangerous, the play can be stopped by the umpire. According to Law. 6.4 changing the pitch, here is what can happen.
6.4 changing the pitch
6.4.1 If the on-field umpires decide that it is dangerous or unreasonable for play to continue on the match pitch, they shall stop play immediately advise the match referee
6.4.2 The on-field umpires and the ICC match referee shall then consult with both captains
6.4.3 If the captains agree to continue, play shall resume
6.4.4 If the decision is not to resume play, the on-field umpires together with the ICC match referee shall consider whether the existing pitch can be repaired and the match resumed from the point it was stopped
6.4.5 If the decision is that it can't be repaired, then the match is to be abandoned as a draw