Green Pitch Draws Blood

Day One

Patrick O’Keeffe


Despite predictions of a closely fought Test series, the First Test saw a comprehensive victory to an Australian side showing signs of regeneration. In media engagements, the New Zealand players promised a better showing in Hobart.


The New Zealand batsmen could have expected a flatter pitch. The Bellerive wicket tends to favour batsmen, and from observing Sheffield Shield results at the ground, it can be ascertained that the wicket flattens out into the third and fourth days. Nevertheless, there were reports coming from Bellerive that this wicket would resemble a green top, due to rain in the days leading up to the Test.


The Bellerive Oval, now known as the Blundstone Arena (possible tribute to Tasmanian tradie, Ben Hilfenhaus), is a great place to watch international cricket. It’s like watching a Sheffield Shield game that people have decided to attend. Listening to the match at home, I enjoy hearing the individual hecklers coming through on the radio effects microphone. There’s something quintessentially Tassie about the lone heckler at the cricket.


I always love the Hobart Test. Which makes it all the more surprising that I managed to miss the opening half hour, due to a curiously scheduled appointment to donate 468ml of blood. Bouyed by glowing reports of my capacity as a donor, I headed through the Adelaide rain to the nearest functioning television set. When I eventually found one, New Zealand were 3 down for 35, which didn’t necessarily surprise me.


Vettori is out with a hamstring twinge. The only positive is that Boult comes into the team. He is a great prospect who probably should have played in the First Test.


True to reports, the pitch was green. Not just a tinge of green suggesting some help for the seamers, the pitch was a deep green. The type of green that could suggest a three day Test match. Although, I have always thought that Bellerieve can appear to be very green, though still play truly. This one was green, and the ball was seaming everywhere. Andy Bichel rolled Pakistan in a one-day international on a similar deck a few years back, bowling fullish outswingers that pitched just outside off. I thought Pattinson was in for another day out.


The pitch reminded me of one that I had to roll on the morning of a school match. Our school pitch offered considerable assistance to the seamers at the best of times. However on this occasion, I was driving the roller despite not being in possession of a drivers licence at the time. My reversing skills weren’t what they could have been, and I ended up spending most of my time rolling a spot well outside off stump. We were bowled out for 70 odd. The pitch offered prodigious movement off the seam.


James Pattinson was roaring in from an undetermined end. I wasn’t paying that much attention. He looks very promising. Broad shouldered, big arsed fast bowlers that can move the ball are worth the weight in gold. He makes the batsman play, and consistently pitches in areas that unsettle batsmen.


Brendan McCullum appears to be playing the anchor role. I wonder if the blood missing from my body is affecting my concentration. Momentarily out of the room, I hear a loud exclamation of “Jeee-sus!” from my brother, who has just returned from a satellite link up with Obama. Or something like that. McCullum is out. Five down.


Keeper Reece Young didn’t look like troubling the scorers too much in the First Test. Second ball against Pattinson he tries valiantly to provide the slips courdon with catching practice. Third ball he attempts to heave a short ball from outside off to the mid-wicket boundary. Fourth ball, he hangs that bat out to dry in the fashion of an out of form Geoff Marsh, and edges the ball on to his wicket. Six down. Brian Waddle says 6 for 60, which sounds very funny.


Dean Brownlie is offering resistance, yet again. Amazing that he couldn’t force his way into an inconsistent West Australian team. He looks like the sort of player that Australia could do with right now. However, in the spirit of giving, I would say that New Zealand need him more. He plays very well through the offside off the back foot and scores heavily off middle and leg. Rapidly losing partners, he cuts too close to his body and plays on to Pattinson.


The hill at the Blundstone Arena has been renamed Boot Hill, which reminds me of Terrence Hill, which reminds me of the film Watch Out We’re Mad, which reminds me of hapless assassin Paganini, which reminds me of hapless batsman Chris Martin. Martin is bowled first ball. New Zealand are all out for 150, reminding of Adelaide’s cricketing renegades, the Clapham Classics, who last year awarded their batting trophy to a fellow who averaged a tick over 15. I’m just guessing, however I would doubt that the Clapham Classics ever plunged to the depths of 9 for 21.


The talking point of the next half hour is Phillip Hughes. He needs runs like the Red Cross needs blood. He probably would not be all that happy about facing the new ball on a green top under overcast skies, yet there he is. He edges through a field consisting of four slips and three gullies to get off the mark. Inevitably, he nicks Chris Martin straight to second slip and trudges off. He just does not inspire confidence at the top of the order. I know he can bat and he can score heavily, however his technique is too easily dismantled.


Tasmanian opener Ed Cowan has just made his third consecutive hundred, albeit on a flat Manuka wicket. He would have to be close. Watson will eventually come back in, which could prove to be a straight swap for Hughes. Perhaps Khawaja moves up to open, Watson slots in at six. Hughes may score heavily in the second innings and save his spot, though first innings runs are what make a batsman. Ponting averages nearly 60 in first innings knocks.


As inevitable as Phil Hughes edging to an expectant slips courdon, the rain starts pelting down and play is suspended.





  1. Hughes needs to go back to Sheffield Shirld and make 1000 runs 2 years in a row before getting a recall. Flawed technique would be the understatement of the century. He’s just a junkie for anything on or about off stump.

  2. John Butler says

    Pattrick, Ed Cowan writes much better than Punter.

    That’s bound to count against him.

  3. Good stuff Patrick. Watching an early half hour of play before work over here in Perth – my main thought was I’m glad we’re not batting on that. When I heard they made 150 it seemed not inconsequential. Then I read this morning’s newspaper drivel full of Australian triumphalism and disdain for the Kiwis.
    Seemed the worst expample of ‘going the early crow’ since the Floreat Pica society mid season. The Australian batsmen are mostly techniqueless flat track bullies conditioned by lifeless wickets and short forms of the game. Ricky and Mr Cricket seemed to have reached that stage of their career where reflexes and concentration have waned, and they can’t quite believe that it is happening to them. Hanging on by their fingernails for the pay cheque and hoping that ‘something turns up’.
    The conditions are still difficult on Day 2, but the Australian batting makes inept look high praise.
    A welcome reality check after the hype of JoBurg and Brisbane.

  4. John Butler says

    PB, leave me something to write about for the day’s report. :)

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