No green top for first Test: Centurion curator

Johannesburg: In what should please the Indians, South African fast bowlers will be denied a green top in the first Test at Centurion as the curator fears that he could be in the line of fire if the visiting bowlers get to exploit it first.

"Look, everybody wants the ball to fly past the Indian batsman`s ears because they are apparently vulnerable against short deliveries. If we win the toss on that pitch and bowl them out cheaply, then I`m the hero, but think what could happen if the roles are reversed and they bowl us out cheaply. Then they demand your head and everyone wants to know what went wrong," said SuperSport Park groundsman Hilbert Smith.

"To make this happen, you need a lot of grass on the pitch. Then you can have a scenario where one team is bowled out for 120 while the other gets 150. Even an average seamer is then made to look world class. That is not what you want," he said.

Smith said he is preparing a wicket which will offer something for the bowlers in the first morning.

"I`m definitely not going to prepare a pitch where the Test will be over within three days. But it will be a pitch that will definitely offer something for the bowlers on the first morning.”

"I want to prepare a pitch where it won`t just be an automatic choice to bat if you win the toss," Smith, the experienced groundsman of Titans side, was quoted as saying by website `Sport24`.

"I want to see that first session or that first morning playing a big role, because it’s then that there has to be something for the bowlers, and the batsmen will have to stand strong to survive."

Smith said he has already received a call from the South Africa coach, Corrie van Zyl, about what is required for December 16 but refused to reveal anything.

Of the 15 Tests that have been played at SuperSport Park, South Africa have won 11, lost only one and drawn three.

Smith said the weather a few days before the Test will also play a big role in how the pitch will look eventually.

According to him, it is also an extraordinary situation that the final of the MTN40 will be decided on December 10, only six days before the Test begins next Thursday.

This pitch and the Test pitch are next to each other.