SA coach hopes Centurion pitch will have pace and bounce

Johannesburg: South African coach Corrie van Zyl rues that the SuperSport Park pitch at Centurion has slowed down but feels that there should be enough mongrel in the strip to bother the Indian top-order in the first Test starting December 16.

The Test venue on which the Proteas have had most success isn’t what it used to be but van Zyl is still hopeful that there would be some pace and bounce.

“The wicket has had a lot of traffic – what with Champions Trophy and Champions League – and they struggle to get grass to grow on it. That’s why it’s slowed down,” van Zyl said.

“They (the groundsmen) are confident they can prepare something with pace and bounce,” he added.

He said things have progressed smoothly for the home side with Hashim Amla “freshening up” while recovering from a forearm injury while captain Graeme Smith has started hitting tennis ball.

“Maybe it’s a bit of a blessing in disguise for Hashim because he’s played a lot of cricket. It’s very much the same thing for Graeme (Smith) after his finger injury. He’s hitting tennis balls lightly so by the time he arrives for camp he should be ready to go,” van Zyl said.

“Dale Steyn has been working with Vinnie (Barnes) and Ashwell Prince in Cape Town. We also flew Lonwabo Tsotsobe to Cape Town to bowl so by the time the players arrive in Joburg they’ll pretty much be where we want them to be.

“We’ll have practice at the Wanderers on Monday, where we’ll simulate Test match conditions. I want the opening bowlers especially to bowl at least two spells,” he was quoted as saying by ‘The Times’.

Van Zyl said South Africa could be using former England coach Duncan Fletcher as consultant for the first three ODIs against India, which follows the three-match Test series, while also considering roping in Shaun Pollock at some stage in the season.

“We’re keeping an open mind on who we use and when we use them,” says van Zyl.

Bureau Report

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