The Indian batsmen are evidently bracing themselves for a barrage of bouncers when they take guard against their hosts South Africa, in the first Test at Centurion on Dec 16. But the visitors may be in for a pleasant surprise. The groundsman of the concerned strip has said that it will only have a "bit of bounce" and won't exude the dreaded trampoline effect associated with regular South African wickets.
"But everything depends on the weather", said Hilbert Smith. "If it stays hot, somewhere in the region of 34 degrees Celsius and the pitch dries out, then it will flatten out totally and then we will have a problem because we need some moisture to get bounce," Smith said.
Cricket South Africa had directed Smith to prepare a strip that would favour the pace bowlers. "I've been told to leave some grass on it, so there will be bounce. I've rolled some grass into the base for that," Smith said. Smith had had to undertake the delicate task of proving just enough substance to aid bounce, but at the same time ensure that the match doesn't end prematurely. He has indicated that the presence of just the right amount of grass will prevent too much lateral movement for the bowlers.
Smith has also been instructed to make the pitch partially conducive for the spinnes, by allowing some turn. But the bounce of the pitch should be enough to interest the taller spinners like Paul Harris and Harbhajan Singh. The opinion comes from former South African chinaman spinner Paul Adams. "Spinners just need the bounce to be able to deceive the batsmen," he said.
Luckily, the weather is expected to go the way the groundsman has been hoping. Although, the temperature has been up around the 30-centigrade mark in recent days, it has rained a fair bit as well and will continue to do so. Rain is forecast all day for Sunday and Monday while clearing on Tuesday and returning on Wednesday night. Thursday, the first day of the Test, is also expected to be overcast and damp.