World Cup 2015: New Zealand March 17, 2015

'Unusual bounce' the Wellington secret

It is perhaps not the catchiest moniker, but New Zealand are back at Fortress Wellington Regional Stadium - more colloquially known as the 'Cake Tin' - for their quarter-final against West Indies and the secret to their impressive record of 15 wins and seven defeats at the ground is the make-up of what's beneath their feet.

Mike Hesson, the New Zealand coach, talked of an "unusual bounce" which takes opposition teams time to adjust to and makes home advantage even more of a boost. England found that to their cost earlier in the tournament when they were bundled out for 123, although that was as much to do with the swing obtained by Tim Southee than anything odd happening off the 22 yards. Since that match, three innings totals have been in excess of 300, with Sri Lanka chasing down 310 for the loss of one wicket.

There is, though, further recent evidence that New Zealand's attack can exploit the conditions. At the end of January, Pakistan were bowled out for 210 and the previous year they removed India for 216, although between those two matches one was lost to Sri Lanka. There was a period from 2007 to 2011 when New Zealand's bowlers certainly dominated as they bundled out Australia (148), England (130), West Indies (128) and Pakistan (124).

"It's quite an unusual bounce which takes a little while to get used to and we've played enough games there that our guys have adapted to that," Hesson said. "Sides that haven't been there in recent times will need to adjust.

"I don't want to give too much away but it's a different surface, it's a drop-in and it had a big gap underneath it, now it's got some rubble or shingle underneath so it bounces a bit differently than it has in the past. We've had some recent experience of that."

Tim Southee will return to the scene of his 7 for 33 when he faces West Indies in the quarter-final © Associated Press

The figures of Southee at the ground certainly stand out - after his haul against England, he now has 21 wickets at 12.00 from six ODIs. Although he has not bowled poorly since that heady day, his 2 for 65 against Australia at Eden Park was followed by wicketless outings against Bangladesh and Afghanistan, so it is a timely return to a happy hunting ground.

"When you go out on a ground where you've performed well you do feel good about it," Hesson said. "He had great rhythm that day and the ball swung beautifully for him. Let's hope it's a nice still day and he can swing it around corners again."

New Zealand returned to training at a blustery Basin Reserve on Tuesday following a short break after finishing the group stage unbeaten. They will have Wednesday off before a rigorous practice day on Thursday. Hesson continued to be positive about the outlook for Adam Milne who missed the Bangladesh match with a shoulder injury.

However, Hesson certainly will not be taking a break from cricket on Wednesday with a keen eye on the quarter-final between South Africa and Sri Lanka. If New Zealand progress to the semi-final at Eden Park, they will play the winner of that match.

"That's a massive game on our side of the draw," he said. "It'll be interesting in Sydney and winning the toss and batting over there is pretty important if it's going to turn. Most of the support staff will sit down and watch it, some of the players will and some will want to get away and not think about it. They all deal with it a little bit differently. I pretty much watch every ball."

Andrew McGlashan is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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