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January 13, 2009
Atkinson, the ICC's pitch consultant, was brought in as an emergency measure by the club after Len Smith, the long-serving groundsman, left in September. The ground was criticised during the rained-off ODI between England and South Africa with the feeling it wasn't up to hosting such a major match as an opening Ashes encounter.
However, Atkinson has no such concerns after spending the winter overseeing preparations. "This ground compares very favourably to other Test pitches I have worked at and is better than some," he told the South Wales Echo. "It seems to have had a lot of criticism but I don't think people like change. Cardiff is a capital city and deserves a Test venue."
Atkinson hands over to the new groundsman, Keith Exton, in February and said there is plenty of time to complete all the required work - including a new drainage system - before the Test match.
"We have got until July and that should be enough time," he said. "We have put everything in place and the field will be in great condition. If we can get a lucky break with the weather then things will be fine."
Atkinson's main piece of advice for Exton is to be ready for a lot of focus to be on his pitches. "Keith comes highly recommended from the ECB He has an excellent reputation. His biggest problem could be the amount of exposure, you have to get used to it and you need to have skin like a rhino."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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