I'd bat first in Test: Bellerive curator
The contentious pitch is prepared at Blundstone Arena, Thursday. Photo: Getty Images
THE Bellerive Oval curator reckons his pitches have been unfairly maligned, with the low scores on it earlier this season due more to reckless batting than unplayable conditions.
Marcus Pamplin predicted batting conditions would be good for the first three days of the Australia-Sri Lanka Test match starting on Friday, good enough that if he had the choice he would bat first.
Scrutiny of the Bellerive pitch has increased due to there being an average first-innings score of 91.33 in the three Sheffield Shield matches played there this season, only a few months after the entire centre square was relaid in August. The scores of the team batting first has declined across the three matches so far, from 112 to South Australia, 95 for Tasmania against Queensland and then 67 by Western Australia.
Pamplin agreed unfavourable weather had affected preparations but insisted the condition of the pitches had been not primarily to blame for the unusually low scores.
''In the Queensland game against Tasmania [home team coach] Tim Coyle blasted his own batsmen for batting like madmen, and Justin Langer did the same for Western Australia, so I reckon it's pretty unfair [to criticise pitch conditions],'' Pamplin said on Thursday.
''[Think of] Adelaide [Oval], this is a complete reverse of that. That's what we try and do [to get] results down here, because it's such a benign surface from day one it's hard to get people out. That's why we probably aim to speed up the game early.''
Pamplin reckoned any movement achieved by bowlers in the Test match would be primarily due to overhead conditions, as occurred last year when Australia was beaten at home by New Zealand.
''I think it's slightly leaning towards a batting deck. Depending on overhead conditions, I reckon it will probably swing more than [move off the] seam,'' he said.
''I think it'll be good for batting on day one, two and three, and hopefully start getting lower [after that]. Depending on overhead conditions, I reckon it'll swing around and most likely reverse swing later on.
''There's going to be a lot of cloud cover, that's the main thing to worry about. It's going to be humid as well ... I think it's going to swing around.''
Pamplin said recent good weather in Hobart had helped settled the relaid centre square and made it easier to prepare a good pitch for the Test match.
''Early on in the year we were having games where it was only 15 degrees and there was snow on the mountain. Also, for those two earlier games the covers were on for extended periods, about a day and a half, before they actually started play so there was a lot of movement because of the sweat. I think with the [good] weather it's hardened up underneath the surface and it’s getting better to roll,'' he said.
''We've tried our best to get it right and I think we've done a marvellous job.''