The St George's Park pitch in Port Elizabeth, on which Australia have twice come from behind to achieve victory in low-scoring matches against England and New Zealand, is to be re-examined ahead of next Tuesday's ICC Cricket World Cup semifinal at that stadium.
Hilbert Smit, Chairman of the SA Cricket Groundsman's Association, and Brian Basson, the UCB/CWC Director of Cricket Operations, will travel to Port Elizabeth tomorrow (Wednesday) to oversee preparations for the March 18 semifinal.
Prof Neil Tainton, a world-renowned Grassland Scientist and pitch consultant to CWC 2003, will not go immediately to Port Elizabeth but will play a role in association with his two colleagues in ensuring, in the words of CWC 2003 Executive Director, Dr Ali Bacher, that the St George's Park wicket is "conducive to great one-day international cricket" for the semifinal.
After a 96-run victory over New Zealand today, Australian captain Ricky Ponting said the pitch was a better one than that for the England match nine days ago, although he seemed concerned about early dampness in the wicket.
After Australia's two wicket victory over England on March 2, Dr Bacher instructed Smit to travel from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth to seek an improvement. Smit went there the next day and helped produce what Ponting now described as an improvement.
Dr Bacher said the decision to ask Smit and Basson to revisit Port Elizabeth should not be seen as criticism of the Eastern Province Cricket Board or its groundstaff.
"Eighteen months ago, St George's Park was in a sorry state but they have done a terrific job there in upgrading the stadium, the outfield and the pitch. The stadium is in great shape.
"We are now simply saying that we will do all in our power to ensure that the pitch in Port Elizabeth is befitting of great one-day international cricket as is envisaged in an ICC Cricket World Cup semifinal," added Dr Bacher.
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