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Firdose Moonda at the Basin Reserve
March 24, 2012
Complaining about the weather is not becoming of athletes. After all, they choose to play sport for a living so they should be willing to put up with conditions that are occasionally less than pleasant. Today, though, nobody would have blamed any of the New Zealand players for moaning about the weather.
They had to field under heavily pregnant skies with tufts of drizzle blowing in intermittently. Worse than that, a wind of up to 80kph lashed the Basin Reserve, blowing the flags off their poles, the seagulls off their perches and the bowlers off their delivery strides. Regularly.
"Out of the 460 odd days of Test cricket I have played, this ranks somewhere near the bottom," Daniel Vettori said with a wry smile when asked to assess the day. "It was an incredibly tough day in terms of the conditions. Just not easy for the bowlers."
From the stands, or on television, one cannot judge just how difficult it is to deal with wind. "For the fast bowlers bowling with the wind behind them, it's just about settling in and getting used to having it on your back," Vettori said. "But into the wind it's pretty tough for the seamers and even for the spinners. You get blown around in your run-up and in your delivery stride, and it can be a little difficult."
Mark Gillespie and Kane Williamson had the most notable difficulty with their run-ups, having to restart a few times, but all the bowlers struggled.
Vettori did not use the conditions as an excuse for New Zealand's performance, though, which saw them bowl 37 overs on the second day without taking a wicket, miss the two chances that were created from the edge of Alviro Petersen's bat and allow Petersen and JP Duminy to get on top of them. That came on the back of an ordinary first day, on which New Zealand managed to take only two wickets after putting the opposition in. Vettori said they were willing to front up to the fact that they had not done enough despite the two truncated days of cricket.
"We were pretty disappointed after winning the toss and that first session [on Friday]. We probably fought back a little bit with the big wicket of [Hashim] Amla but the sort of stop-start nature of today and not knowing what we were doing also did not help.
"We were a bit shocked to be starting at 2pm as well. The start of today wasn't as successful as we wanted because we needed an early breakthrough this afternoon. Overall we are disappointed in only taking two wickets on a wicket that offered some assistance early on."
JP Duminy was less critical in his appraisal of the conditions, rating the day "about a seven," as far as conditions go. Although the wind has a less hostile effect on batsmen, it did require Duminy to make certain adjustments. "I spread my feet a little bit more to get a good centre base," he said. "It was difficult at times facing bowlers coming into the wind; if they pitched the ball up it sort of wobbled a bit. I tried to play as straight as possible. The other trouble is maybe the bat wobbling in the air during your backlift, so I held it a bit firmer to make sure I had control."
Duminy's adjustment to the conditions was accompanied by an adjustment to the format, as he has not played Test cricket in more than two years. He finished the day unbeaten on 76 and has shown every intent of hanging around for long. "It's a decent deck to bat on and there's a little bit there for the bowlers as well," he said.
Vettori said he expected there to still be something in the track for the bowlers on the third day. "It's still got some pace in it but it depends on the conditions tomorrow. That's always the key in Wellington; overhead conditions play a big part," he said. "Sometimes the best days are when it's a big blue sky and the ball can swing here."
Clear weather and sunshine is predicted for the rest of the match and Vettori said he hoped New Zealand could make the most of it. "Wickets can fall in clumps here, so that's our goal tomorrow morning. If the conditions hold out and it's a better bowling day we need to attack pretty earlier on."
Edited by Dustin Silgardo
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
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