Cricket: Proteas are sitting pretty so not bothered about the pitch

By David Leggat

South Africa's Dean Elgar bats during the first test. Photo / AP
South Africa's Dean Elgar bats during the first test. Photo / AP

Russell Domingo doesn't exactly sound like a bloke with the worries of the world on his shoulders.

That's probably got something to do with the fact his South African team are exactly where he'd want them to be going into the final match of their New Zealand tour - 1-0 in the test series with one to play.

Add in the outlook is bleak, with the likelihood that there won't be much cricket played at Seddon Park from this Saturday with a depressing weather forecast.

Coach Domingo, asked his thoughts on the pitch for Saturday - in Hamilton, they have two distinct halves of the block, one bouncier and faster, the other more receptive to spin - he sounds as if he couldn't care less which side it's played on, almost as if South Africa figure they have all bases covered.

"It's not something that stresses us too much. We've just got to play well," he said.

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His one interesting thought on the pitch is that he expects a touch of reverse swing to come into play, given this is a well-worn block this summer with a pile of domestic cricket plus four international matches already.

The first test at University Oval in Dunedin was evenly matched which had a frustrating, rainy finish.

South Africa had a great day-and-a-half - after New Zealand had a decent first day-and-a-half - to win the second test by eight wickets.

New Zealand maintain there's not much between the sides, taking out their inability to handle the tidy left arm spin of Keshav Maharaj on Saturday at the Basin Reserve where, inexplicably, New Zealand folded in good batting conditions for 171.

"I don't think we've ever had a game against New Zealand that we've gone in thinking 'we've got this'," Domingo said. "We're on top of them, but the sides are so evenly matched, we know we're going to have a tough challenge."

It's easy to see how Domingo keeps his focus on message, too.

"It looks good, results-wise but it's never quite good enough," he said of South Africa's tour. "You're always trying to improve."

New Zealand fingers are crossed that ace swing bowler Trent Boult will join the squad in Hamilton today in fine fettle and declare himself fit for the test.

He missed the second match in Wellington with an upper leg injury. New Zealand are optimistic. Boult has taken 22 wickets in four home tests this season at 22.5 apiece.

"He's a hell of a good bowler," an admiring Domingo said. "His record is phenomenal. All our players respect him a great deal."

If the test is drawn, and India beat Australia in their final test to take that series 2-1, South Africa will go second on the test rankings.

If it finishes 1-1 in the fractious series on the subcontinent, South Africa stay third. New Zealand needn't worry: they sit fifth.

- NZ Herald

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