SA in New Zealand
SA, NZ evenly matched: Smith
Hamilton - Proteas captain Graeme Smith insists that the playing field between South Africa and New Zealand is level, as the teams prepare for the second Test match at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Thursday.
The rain on Day five of the first Test in Dunedin interrupted an evenly balanced contest, with the Proteas needing eight wickets for victory and the hosts 264 runs for a record-breaking run-chase.
“I think there is unfinished business after the first Test match,” Smith said when asked about the Blackcaps’ fight-back in their second innings. “There was a whole day that was setup for either side to be successful on, so I wouldn’t say anyone bounced back or anyone outplayed the other. I would say that we are even-stevens going into this Test match.”
The topics of discussion have been on both the overhead and on-field conditions, which are contrary to the extremities experienced in Dunedin. The pitch at Seddon Park has a greener than expected tinge to it, compared to the brown sluggish deck prepared in Dunedin, while the weather forecast for the Waikato region is pleasantly warm with clear skies, unlike the gusty wind and cold temperatures experienced in the south.
“We are a lot more comfortable with the weather at the moment," Smith said. “The boys were pretty happy to get on the plane out of Dunedin. It has definitely been a lot more comfortable here.
“The pitch is pretty hard, it has hardened up a lot since yesterday (Tuesday). It has good grass covering and we have seen quite a lot of that this year back at home. It’s not something that surprises us or scares us so I think day one is going to be an interesting time to bat.”
Conditions aside, Smith also reiterated the necessity of starting well, without placing too much emphasis on which way the coin lands at the toss.
“Ideally we would like to start this Test match well, we don’t want to put ourselves behind the eight ball early on and have to work our way back into the game. It looks like the wicket might have a little bit in it in the first innings and maybe the toss will play a slightly more crucial role in that.”