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Bellerive ringers: Hobart is the place for pace, says Wright

"I reckon Hilfy has made the down-the-hill end his own" ... former New Zealand bowling coach Damien Wright.

"I reckon Hilfy has made the down-the-hill end his own" ... former New Zealand bowling coach Damien Wright. Photo: Getty Images

THE architect of New Zealand's pace-led demolition of Australia in Hobart last summer believes the home team should rely on an all-pace attack for Friday's series opener against Sri Lanka.

NZ spin stalwart Daniel Vettori's withdrawal on the morning of the Test due to injury was a blessing for the Black Caps as their four paceman routed Australia in each innings to secure a memorable seven-run victory. Only one specialist batsman, David Warner, reached 25 in either innings as Australia was dismissed for 136 and 233.

''It was fortunate,'' said Damien Wright, who until recently was NZ's bowling coach and also the leading first-class wicket-taker at Bellerive Oval. ''It was one of those things where we've gone, 'Oh shit, we've lost Dan Vettori', and then judging how the wicket played and how all four of the boys bowled I couldn't have asked for anything better.''

The effectiveness of pace bowling at Bellerive has been reinforced this season. Across the three Sheffield Shield matches it has hosted this season, pacemen have taken 93 wickets at an average of 18.12, whereas spinners have taken six wickets at 46.17, albeit from a combined total of 101 overs for the tweakers compared to 601 for the seamers.

Wright, now bowling coach for Victoria and assistant coach for the Melbourne Stars, said his main wish for the match was that the man who overtook him as leading wicket-taker in Hobart, Ben Hilfenhaus, be recalled along with Peter Siddle.

Despite almost being four full years into his Test career Hilfenhaus, 29, is yet to play a Test at Bellerive.

Wright said he considered Hilfenhaus's healthy first-class record at home, 129 wickets at 24.9, more important than both the fact he has played only one first-class match there in the past 13 months and the scrutiny he has received from the Australian hierarchy about kinks in his bowling action.

''He bowls down the hill and I used to really love doing that … once you got used to doing it there was really no better place to bowl. I reckon Hilfy has made the down-the-hill end his own,'' the former swing bowler said.

For all the scrutiny that has been on pitch conditions in Hobart this summer the batting woes objectively seem to be limited to the first day of matches. The average score for a team batting first has been 91.33 across three matches, but the team in directly afterwards has averaged 315.33. Tasmanian opener Ed Cowan said he thought Bellerive was home to ''a wicket that's accelerated the game in reverse''.

''There are grounds around the world and around the country that deteriorate as the game goes on. This probably gets better to bat on, and history suggests that,'' he said. ''To get results in Shield cricket the game has had to forward at some stage and here it's been early rather than the end.''

Last month Australia's Test spinner Nathan Lyon bowled only four overs in the match for South Australia, such was the dominance of pace. The three wickets he took against NZ, the Black Caps' three tail-enders in their second innings, were the only to fall to spin in that match.

With Shane Watson still to return to a full bowling workload after his comeback from injury, Wright said an all-pace attack featuring Siddle, Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson - rather than one of the latter two - was ''a real option for them to think about''. ''I wouldn't play him [Lyon], but that's me. I'm always going to go the pace against the spin because I just believe that Bellerive hasn't spun for 40 years.''

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