Black Caps 'shot themselves in foot' preparing slow pitches, says South African spinner Dane Piedt
Recalled South African spinner Dane Piedt has fired an early shot on arrival, claiming New Zealand blundered by not preparing green, seaming pitches to suit their pace attack.
The offspinner missed selection in South Africa's test squad but was whistled up for Saturday's third cricket test in Hamilton which captain Faf du Plessis predicted will be a spin-friendly "dustbowl" at Seddon Park.
While that meant good news for Piedt, who has 24 wickets at an average of 36 from seven tests, he admitted surprise he was even here.
"I think they [New Zealand] have shot themselves in the foot. They didn't back their seamers to do the job, and I thought their seamers bowled pretty well in South Africa. They bowled us out for 263 in Durban on quite a sporting deck [in August]," Piedt told touring reporters after South Africa went 1-0 up in the series with a dominant eight-wicket win in Wellington.
"I didn't expect that New Zealand would play two spinners in the first test and when they left Tim Southee out I was also surprised. Just the fact that two series before that, Bangladesh and Pakistan were here and they played on surfaces that were quite sporting for the seamers [New Zealand won all four tests].
"I expected it to be the same, but obviously with the type of seam attack we have they thought they would be under pressure."
Du Plessis said after the Dunedin draw he'd been caught unawares by conditions in New Zealand, notably two spin-friendly pitches for the Hamilton ODIs then a slow, low University Oval surface for the first test.
Admittedly Dunedin has never had pace and bounce but it had less grass and was dryer than usual, as New Zealand picked Mitchell Santner and Jeetan Patel in tandem for the first time at home. That pair will likely combine again in Hamilton, which coach Mike Hesson has confirmed will be played on the slower Waikari clay side of the block.
Clearly there has been departure from Hesson's previous public requests for pitches to have plenty of green grass, which materialised for Sri Lanka, Australia, Pakistan and Bangladesh test tours of recent years. Hesson said a year ago he'd back New Zealand's pace attack against anyone's, but that now apparently doesn't include South Africa's even if he insisted after Dunedin there was no directive to ground staff.
"You don't generally get quick pitches in New Zealand this time of year. Our one-day pitches had a bit more pace this year and that's just through the amount of rain we've had. I don't think ideally we want to play South Africa on a seamer friendly surface. Going into day five [a washout in Dunedin] it could have gone one of three ways, which is a sign of a very good test pitch."
It turned ugly for the hosts in Wellington on what was another typical Basin Reserve surface with a bit of seam movement early but generally good for batting and with enough pace and bounce for towering South African duo Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada to enjoy as they each bowled testing early spells.
Notably, the past two Hamilton tests were played on the faster Patumahoe side of the block which offered pace and bounce and assisted New Zealand victories over Sri Lanka in 2015 and Pakistan in November.
In Wellington the Black Caps batsmen bizarrely lost 12 of their 20 wickets to spin from Maharaj and part-timer JP Duminy, on a pitch that won't turn nearly as much as Hamilton.
Said selector Gavin Larsen: "It wasn't overly threatening and to allow a spinner like [Maharaj] to take 6-40 was, for me, unacceptable. When you come to a deck that might turn a bit more it might present even more challenges. That's now the challenge for Mike and Kane [Williamson] to work through."