Bangladesh spin bowling coach Sunil Joshi walked towards the centre of the Seddon Park yesterday and was actually looking for the pitch which will be one of the main actors when the Tigers face New Zealand in the first of three Tests starting from tomorrow.
A visibly confused Joshi was wondering whether the deck, which was covered with grass, was actually the surface on which the visitors would play until head curator Karl Johnson smilingly confirmed the fact for the former Indian left-arm spinner.
A few minutes later, Bangladesh head coach Steve Rhodes and Mushfiqur Rahim also had a look at the pitch and were discussing something serious. A curious Rhodes then walked towards the head curator and put forth a few queries about the expected nature of the pitch.
At first sight, anyone from an Asian country would be surprised to see so much green grass covering the surface and immediately assume it to be a seamer's paradise.
“Well, we have some greenness on the turf as we still have two more days for the Test match, so we have got some finishing to do. In New Zealand, we run grass on the wicket as we need to have some greenness to generate pace off the pitch.
“All Asian teams, when they come to New Zealand and see that much grass on the wicket... they go 'wow'. But this is normal for our conditions as I had a Test match here a few seasons ago where you couldn't tell the difference between the outfield and the pitch. Sri Lanka were 270 odd for six after the first day after being asked to bat first. Traditionally, the wickets will be very grassy,” Johnson told The Daily Star yesterday.
But according to Johnson, the Seddon Park pitch is expected to be a true surface that will offer purchase for both batsman and seamers. However, he did add that the pitch is not going to break, which means there will be less turn for spinners.
"What I actually wanted to do was that it actually starts to deteriorate, so that there is some variable bounce. You don't want the batters to bat here for five days as you want to create a chance to get a result. The ideal pitch for me in Test matches is that it does a little bit one or two sessions in the first day, bat well for Days Two and Three and then I actually want to see the ball doing something in the latter part, so it's actually great for Test cricket,” he added.
The statistics of Seddon Park in the last five Tests also suggests the same as the team batting first has not scored below 270 while in the last 10 Tests here, teams chasing targets have won the match on five occasions.
Bangladesh head coach Rhodes also echoed the curator's thoughts, informing that it would be important for the batsmen to remain positive rather than just try to occupy the crease with the green-top in mind.
“When you come to New Zealand, you know the wickets are grassy but sometimes they can be a shock to your system. But there are no lies as the pitch will do a little bit on the first day but it should slow down to be a pretty good wicket with a little bit of bounce in it and maybe a little up and down towards the end. I think you have to play the ball and not have any preconceived idea of how it will play. I think that will be the message for our team,” Rhodes said.