When we arrived at the Trelawny stadium in Jamaica
earlier this week I flippantly described the clay brown pitch as an ice skating
There’s not a blade of grass anywhere to be seen and I
suppose it’s a bit like plasticine. They wet it up at night, roll it and it’s
got a sheen on it like a skating rink. You can even see yourself in it.
I have not seen anything
pitches anywhere else in the world. They’re even more devoid of grass than
where at least there is a thin cover
of grass to give it some pace.
While the pitch conditions for our two warm-up matches in
exaggerated in terms of the amount of turn
and bounce compared with the Test venues, it’s
great practice and there’s
nothing like facing the toughest
conditions to modify your technique.
In the first
two-day match, off-spinner Mark Craig was spot on with his first few overs
on debut and deserved his trio of wickets, while paceman Neil Wagner’s five for
38 will give him a lot of confidence considering the unfavourable conditions
In the second warm-up match starting tomorrow, there’ll
need to be a step up with bowlers tackling three to four spells each, and
batsmen looking to be out in the middle for
periods of time.
Today Ross Taylor and Tim Southee join the squad from the
Indian Premier League which just leaves our skipper to come. Having players join the group at different
times is something we’ve become accustomed to with the different formats of the
The first warm-up match was all about ensuring the guys
who haven’t played cricket recently got some time out in the middle. For those
coming from the IPL it’s not like they’ve been on holiday. They’ve been
immersed in cricket for a long time so the transition won’t be
It’s been great to have new batting coach Craig McMillan
and our spin
Paul Wiseman join the squad this week.
Craig’s starting to familiarise himself with the batsmen and build those
relationships that are a critical part of coaching.
Lastly, Jamaica is a great spot and everyone’s loving having
us here. The hardest bit is being at a resort full of holidaymakers who are all
swimming up to the pool bar. The staff simply can’t understand that when we
order a diet coke we don’t want a bit of spice in it.