University Oval pitch should have zip in first test

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 27/11/2013

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The University Oval pitch in Dunedin is expected to have some zip to it when New Zealand take on the West Indies in the first of the three-test series starting on Tuesday.

The pitch came under fire in March, when New Zealand and England played out a dull draw in which only 25 wickets fell in the 341 overs that were sent down over the five days.

At the end of the test, English commentator and former test batsman Geoffrey Boycott was one of the people to slam the University Oval pitch, saying similar pitches would kill test cricket.

"You could play a timeless test on that. You could play for 10 days and not get a result," he said.

Otago Cricket Association boss Ross Dykes said yesterday he expected a pitch with a bit more pace and bounce to it come the first test against the West Indies.

He said there was a fine line between in preparing a pitch that does not offer too much for the bowlers and one that is not a road where the bowlers are cannon fodder for the batsmen.

Dykes believes groundsman Tom Tamati was starting to get the right balance.

"The pitch looks in really good shape. If we get some warm weather between now and Tuesday, I think we'll have as good a pitch at University Oval as we've had," Dykes said.

"It looks like it might be a little quicker than normal with a bit more bounce, which it probably needs to have. I think what Tommy has done up here over the last three or four years has been taking the conservative route and say 'well I'm not going to be criticised for ending a game in two days' so he's probably flattened it out.

"But he's growing in confidence and he now understands what his grass and soil can do. Right now it's going to have good pace in it."

Dykes said he was unsure what sort of crowd numbers they would get over the five days but acknowledged there were some things stacked against them.

They included the fact the game started on a Tuesday and also that one of world cricket's most high-profile stars, Chris Gayle, would not be playing for the West Indies because he was injured.

For the March test between New Zealand and England, temporary seating was put in to increase the ground capacity to 4000.

However, Dykes said that same seating would not be put in this time around, with seating capacity at 3400.

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- Fairfax Media

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