David Leggat on sport

David Leggat is a Herald sport writer

David Leggat: Hobart a rare stage for seamers to shine

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Ross Taylor. Photo / Getty Images
Ross Taylor. Photo / Getty Images

Captains write pitch reports. Captains generally are batsmen.

So what will Michael Clarke and Ross Taylor have to say in their post-match notes about the Bellerive Oval strip used for the second test between Australia and New Zealand?

Maybe they should entrust the wording to their leading seamers Peter Siddle and Chris Martin, who would doubtless invoke the spirit of Oliver Twist and say "more please".

The pitch, which produced 23 wickets over the first two days, was a serious examination of batting techniques. Few emerged with much credit.

But was it out of order for a test? Absolutely not.

Certainly the ball jagged about excessively at times. Did that make it a poor pitch? Absolutely not.

Seamers who have travelled the globe and sweated buckets on flat, lifeless tracks which could have been designed by the Batsmen's Union would have roared a collective "take that" as several of their fellow toilers enjoyed a rare opportunity to display their talents.

It is often back-breaking work for the fast-medium mob, and dispiriting watching batsmen of moderate talent, by the best international standards, fill their boots against the ball bouncing halfway up stump height with barely a skerrick of deviation. You want deviation? Head for the adult shop.

Martin made a valid point after the second day that those who relish watching top class swing and seam bowling, even those who like a touch of variety in their cricket, would have savoured the experience.

For generations, batsmen have lorded it over the bowlers, no more so than on the subcontinent.

Where was the pleasure, other than for those who live for statistics, in watching Sri Lanka run up 952 for six against India at Colombo in 1997, the highest total in test history?

As it happens, four of the six biggest totals scored against New Zealand were at the Basin Reserve and Eden Park, with one apiece at Lahore and Brisbane.

Colombo is among the worst culprits in the type of pitch they produce, but it is not alone.

The dice are as loaded against the bowler in those circumstances as at the dodgiest of casinos.

Those first two days at Hobart gave an insight into what the game used to be, back in the days of uncovered pitches, where the elements called the shots.

The groundsman, Marcus Pamplin, spoke up for his piece of turf at the weekend. He may have slightly over-egged the mix, but was conscious of guarding against the pitch breaking up later in the test.

Over the first two innings, only Dean Brownlie, with his classy, conscientious 56 for New Zealand, managed a half century. No Australian reached 40.

New Zealand's first innings 150 looked well short of a competitive score at the time; once Australia had come up 14 short at their first turn, that view was immediately revised.

It was compelling viewing, and enjoyable, unless your place in the respective teams depended on making runs. But batsmen have had it good far more often than the bowlers.

For two days the seamers bit back. Amen to that.

- NZ Herald

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