India in SA
No green mamba for first Test
Johannesburg – The South African bowlers won't be unleashed on a green mamba wicket in the first Test against India at SuperSport Park in Centurion.
"I'm definitely not going to prepare a pitch where the Test will be over within three days," said groundsman Hilbert Smith.
"But it will be a pitch that will definitely offer something for the bowlers on the first morning.”
"I want to prepare a pitch where it won't just be an automatic choice to bat if you win the toss," the experienced Titans groundsman told Sport24.
Of the 15 Tests that have been played there, SA has won 11.
They have lost only one, the controversial one against the English in 2000; three were drawn, also against England, with only one not influenced by rain.
He has already received a call from the South Africa coach, Corrie van Zyl, about what is required for December 16.
He didn't want to reveal, however, what Van Zyl requested for the first Test against (coach) Gary Kirsten's team, but said they spoke the same language and sang from the same hymn book.
"Look," says Smith, "everybody wants the ball to fly past the Indian batsman's ears because they are apparently vulnerable against short deliveries.
"But to make this happen, you need a lot of grass on the pitch.
"Then you can have a scenario where one team is bowled out for 120 while the other gets 150.
"Even an average seamer is then made to look world class.
"That is not what you want," he said.
"If we win the toss on that sort of a pitch and bowl them out cheaply, then I'm the hero, but think what could happen if the roles are reversed and they bowl us out cheaply.
"Then they demand your head and everyone wants to know what went wrong.
"I want to see that first session or that first morning playing a big role, because it’s then that there has to be something for the bowlers, and the batsmen will have to stand strong to survive.”
Smith said the weather a few days before the Test will also play a big role in how the pitch will look eventually.
According to him, it is also an extraordinary situation that the final of the MTN40 will be decided on Friday, only six days before the Test begins next Thursday.
This pitch and the Test pitch are next to each other.
The pitch for the Titans' battle against the Knights will be one for the batsmen, however, and the bowlers will have to work for their wickets.