Following the embarrassing tour of India New Zealand Cricket’s David White has come up with the idea that “certain” New Zealand pitches should be prepared to resemble spinner friendly Asian pitches so domestic players can get used to batting in such conditions.
Of course those “A” tours to Asia in September-October are a better way of doing that, but money and, probably more importantly, co-operation from host nations are required for that. Batting on spin friendly wickets are one thing, but it’s a bit different when it’s 10 degrees, and not 40.
It is an interesting idea, and one not without merit. But how would it actually work?
New Zealand would be crazy should it try converting pitches where internationals are played into a mini-Asia and, fortunately, there seems to be no move in this direction. International cricket, more than ever, is about maximising home advantage. Just ask English people today.
So that counts out University, Hagley, and Saxton Ovals. It also counts out the Basin, Westpac Stadium, MacLean and Seddon Parks, and the Bay Oval.
That does not leave a lot of venues in New Zealand with much first class cricket played on them.
One obvious approach is to prepare a pitch at Lincoln for early season games or 2nd XI competition games, but that does not really involve the players that this initiative is targeted at.
Rangiora gets a bit of first class cricket, but with Hagley back up and running that is going to dwindle a bit.
Pukerua Park has its moment in the watery spotlight when the short form cricket comes around, but that’s short form only. And the famously quirky nature of the ground means it’s not a great environment to practice in international cricket conditions.
So that leaves Eden Park #2 as the only venue that gets a decent amount of first class cricket, all forms, without involving teams from other countries. It seems appropriate that in 2016 New Zealand’s most unsatisfactory first class cricket venue could provide the answer to the country’s cricketing ills.
As an aside, would this skew the Plunket Shield? Auckland would attract the best spinners in the country; Craig and Sodhi would probably return home, but they would get some green tops when playing away.
Thanks to Ruth for the photo (taken today)