WC 2003 - Groundstaff begin work on dicey semi-final pitch

Published: Thursday, March 13, 2003, 19:33 [IST]
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Port Elizabeth: A team of pitch experts was on Thursday working to repair the slow St George's Park wicket to provide a feast of runs in next week's World Cup semi-final.The review of the pitch, which hosts the semi-final on Tuesday, follows criticism from Australian captain Ricky Ponting after the defending champions escaped defeat twice against England and then New Zealand on the bowler-friendly surface.The review is being carried out by Hilbert Smit, chairman of the South African groundsmen's association, and Brian Basson, the United Cricket Board of South Africa's (UCBSA) director of cricket operations.They are assisted by Adrian Carter, the groundsman at the venue, and Neil Tainton, a World Cup consultant on wickets, in a bid to prepare a good batting surface."I don't want Hilbert to help prepare St George's Park as if it was Centurion Park because conditions are different," Carter told the SAPA news agency."But I'll be calling on his expertise and advice to see if we can get a bit more pace out of the surface."Carter dismissed the wide-held belief that that the pitch at the St George's Park had always played low and slow."Last year's match between South Africa and the Aussies produced in excess of 650 runs, so let's hope it's another belter on Tuesday," he said.It was on the same wicket last year that Pakistan posted its highest One-day score of 335 for 6.The UCBSAs Basson said the panel would find ways to produce a good surface."We did not believe that the ball was coming onto the bat and induce the players to play what we believe were good cricketing shots," he said."Sometimes when sides go out for low scores the first thing they do is look at the groundsman and perhaps the umpire."Australia is due to play its semi-final at the St George's Park against either New Zealand or Sri Lanka.India will feature in the second semi-final against Kenya under the Kingsmead lights in Durban next Thursday after its request to make it a day game was rejected.Copyright AFP 2001


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