CRICKET AUSTRALIA has moved to allay concerns that the pitch in Hobart will be another minefield for batsmen, knowing it can’t afford a hazardous track to be responsible for a three-day match in Australia’s series opener against Sri Lanka.
The state of the wicket at Bellerive Oval is clearly still a touchy subject after last December’s ”green monster” that hosted Australia and New Zealand, and a series of first-class matches this season that have favoured seamers heavily.
Cricket Tasmania blocked a request to speak to the curator, Marcus Pamplin, who prepared last year’s deck, dubbed the ”Incredible Hulk”, and has overseen the resurfacing of the wicket block at Bellerive.
However, CA senior manager of cricket operations Sean Cary was confident the venue for the first of three Tests between Australia and Sri Lanka would provide more balance in the contest between bat and ball.
”Tassie curator Marcus Pamplin has learnt a lot from preparing his wickets this year on a completely new block,” Cary said. ”The whole wicket block was re-laid in August this year. He’s had to manage new soil, clay and rye grass that takes months to settle while preparing wickets for first-class cricket.”
He said CA had taken a back seat in monitoring the process over the last few weeks and was very confident of Pamplin’s skills and expertise.
”He takes great pride in his work and has been working extensively on the Test wicket to ensure it provides an even contest for both teams,” he said.
Amid criticism of state wickets led by South Australia coach Darren Berry, CA is monitoring the production of pitches around the country and the topic was on the agenda at last month’s conference of state chief executives.
In the most recent Sheffield Shield match in Hobart, Western Australia were bundled out for 67 in their first innings, with the Tigers claiming victory by an innings and 118 runs.
Cary, however, said that wicket was a vast improvement on previous versions and would be replicated in the pitch to be used from Friday.
”Marcus has been meticulous in the surface preparation to ensure it is even and void of undulations. The result was a very flat surface for his last Shield wicket, Tasmania v WA.
”Marcus has employed a similar preparation for the Test wicket and is very confident he’ll have an even surface that should provide a great battle between bat and ball.”
If that rings true, it will be music to the ears of Sri Lanka in particular, given their chances against Australia appear to rely largely on their experienced party of batsmen.
Captain Mahela Jayawardene and former leaders Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan have scored more than 25,000 Test runs between them, while veteran Thilan Samaraweera boasts an average in excess of 50 from his 78 Tests.
”The new block has provided bowlers with more bounce and carry than the ‘old’ Bellerive pitch, and this is due to the rye grass and new clay mix,” Cary said. ”However, the new wicket has also shown that when batsman apply themselves early, runs can be scored when they get set.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.