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Spin bowler's paradise for NZ-SA Test

Unseasonal rainfall has turned the pitch for the first Test between New Zealand and South Africa into a spin bowler's paradise.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2004 12:39 IST

Unseasonal heavy rainfall has turned the pitch for the first Test match between New Zealand and South Africa into a spin bowler's paradise.

New Zealand usually offers infamously green and slow pitches but heavy rain last month, five times the February average, has killed the grass on the Hamilton wicket and left turf manager Karl Johnson with a headache.

Johnson had to abandon his preferred test pitch and shift to a strip on the far side of the scarred block which has never been played on but which still had a tinge of grass cover.

"I'm reasonably happy where we're at. It has been a tough ask and it's a big call to do it, but I wouldn't have done it if I wasn't confident," Johnson said.

"It's one of the toughest things I've had to face, being my second test match and having to produce a pitch that hasn't been played on before."

Johnson opted for the back-up pitch because it was made from a different kind of clay to that used in the pitches in the middle of the wicket.

He said he hoped it would last five days but said the ball would scuff up quicker than normal, meaning the quicker bowlers will be less effective and two spinners each would seem likely.

This means New Zealand spin bowler Daniel Vettori, who hails from Hamilton, is likely to make the side, while South Africa may include left-arm duo Paul Adams and Nicky Boje.

"Even the South Africans are talking about playing two spinners so it must be a burner," said Vettori. "It's something to look forward to.

"It's something that comes around once in a while, and that's probably the biggest test for me in that I'll be expected to perform and hopefully play a major part in winning."

First Published: Mar 08, 2004 12:39 IST