As head groundsman and wicket-preparation specialist Phil Stoyanoff put it - getting everything looking superb for tomorrow's big cricket day-nighter between the Black Caps and Australia has been "from one extreme to the other".

As he took a well-earned break from the blistering heat that descended across McLean Park yesterday, he recalled a similar wicket-preparation mission he was called upon to part of for last season at the McLean Park.

It, too, was a one-day international - with the Black Caps due to face Pakistan.

And it rained...and rained...and rained.


"It was incredibly wet - it was like a sea out there," he said.

Not so this time around.

But no rain, high and hot winds and the resulting big dry had also been challenging for Stoyanoff and his crew.

"It has been hard with this heat, because it's been so intensive - we've used a lot of water."

And, as happens despite the fact there has been no rain and conditions are drought-like dry, the covers have had to come out.

A long strip of heavy hessian has been going on during the daytime to slow the drying process, after water has gone on to the strip.

And those hessian covers are themselves covered every night at 7pm so he can get on with watering the block around it.

"It's been a lot of work, but it's looking good out there - it's come up just fine," he said.

The extremes of weather and the different demands they put on pitch preparation are nothing new to Mr Stoyanoff, who is regarded as one of the finest pitch preparers in the game.

He has sorted playing strips throughout New Zealand and internationally in his career.

"Yeah, I've seen this sort of heat before, so you just have to get used it - you just deal with it."

Stoyanoff is not into preparing a strip that could favour a home side or any side for that matter.

He simply prepares a pitch that will result in both wickets and runs, for both sides as creating a spectacle for the crowd was the big driver.

"I hope people will come out to watch this one - it will be a great game," he said.