Hamilton: Another run fest is on the cards as India prepare to take on Ireland in a Pool B match of the ICC cricket World Cup at the Seddon Park here tomorrow, according to curator Karl Johnson.
While this small ground in Hamilton is known for aiding seam and swing bowling, Johnson, who likes to be known as the ‘Turf Manager’ has toed the ICC line and followed the governing body’s diktat of producing batting friendly strips.
“We were instructed by the ICC to prepare good batting tracks with negligible seam movement and less turn. So far the ICC has been happy with how the pitch has played in the two matches. (In the South Africa versus Zimbabwe game, a total of 616 runs were scored).
“Basically, we have tried to keep the surface hard and ensure that there is even bounce and carry,” said Johnson, who has worked at the Sahara Stadium in Pune, during the last edition of Indian Premier League (IPL).
While the ground being open from three sides might bring about joy for the fast bowlers, the track won’t have much for them as it is devoid of any grass.
“To prepare the World Cup wicket, it took me about 14 days. We have laid nine strips. All the three matches including two completed matches and the coming India game was or will be played on different strips but of same nature,” the 43-year-old Johnson said.
With big hitters like skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan,Suresh Raina in the team, the bowlers might find it difficult to contain them with short side boundaries as well as the straight ones.
“The side boundaries are just above 60 metres while one of the straight boundaries is even less than 60 metres (59 metres). The reason for shortened boundaries is that we have lost about 3 metres due to LED boundary boards. If we didn’t have LED boards, then the boundary boards would have been touching the picket fencing,” explained Johnson, who also prepared the turf for the World Rugby finals involving the All Blacks (New Zealand national rugby team) at the nearby Waikato Stadium.
“The best part about the Seddon Park ground is that it’s not a ‘drop-in’ pitch. This is a stadium where only cricket is played unlike Auckland or Wellington, where rugby matches are also held. At Seddon Park, it’s only six months of use as cricket is played from October to March,” the curator said.
Meanwhile, all the tickets of India’s match against Ireland have been sold out in the 10,200 capacity stadium, informed ICC’s Media Operations Manager Nicholas Cavanagh.
“It’s because a large number of Indians are expected to travel from Auckland for this match. We are expecting a capacity crowd of 10,200 tomorrow. We have around 3200 bucket seats and 7000 can seat on the grass banks on three other sides. The ticket rates have been kept at NZD 20 dollars to NZD 40. For children, it’s NZD 5,” Cavanagh stated