The ICC World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton, starting from June 18, is set to witness a pacy and bouncy pitch.
Head groundsman at Southampton, Simon Lee is aiming to produce a competitive track with early help for pacers and with some assistance for spinners later in the summit clash.
“Pitch preparation for this Test is a little simpler as we are a neutral venue, we are guided by the ICC, but we all want is a good pitch that offers an even contest between the teams,” Lee told ESPNcricinfo.
“For me personally I just want to get something out that has some pace, bounce and carry in the pitch.
“It can be a hard thing to do in England as the weather doesn’t help us most of the time, but the forecast in the build-up is good with a lot of sun, so we are hopeful that we’ll get some pace and a hard pitch without over-rolling it and killing it.”
ALSO READ: Cricket: Kathryn Bryce, Mushfiqur Rahim voted ICC players of the month for May 2021
With both India and New Zealand having high-quality pace attacks, Lee intends to keep them in the match at all times.
“Pace just makes red-ball cricket exciting, I’m a cricket fan and I want to produce a pitch where the cricket lovers have to watch every ball in case they miss something, be that some class batting or an amazing spell of bowling.
“A maiden over can be quite exciting if it’s a battle of skill between both bowler and batter. So, yeah, if we can get some pace and bounce in the pitch, but not too one-sided towards seam movement, we’ll be happy,” he said.
However, Lee added that due to the forecast being fine for cricket, the pitches tend to dry out quickly and hence, bringing the spinners into the game. While India have two world class spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, New Zealand are thin on this department.
“As I said, the forecast is looking okay, the pitches dry out very quickly here as we do have some sand mixed into our cricket loam, which helped it hold together when the pitches were re-laid some 10 years ago, but it can help it spin as well.
“To get to that point we’ll need the seamers to bowl, some runs scored, and make some rough along the way. The pitch will always get talked about a lot, but you need the players to play their part to make a good game,” the curator said.
“…so if we produce a pitch that allows the players to show their skills at the top level and we have an entertaining game for the fans, we will be more than satisfied.”
India will look to win their first ICC trophy under the captaincy of Virat Kohli while New Zealand would be looking to pull the strings to register a win for ages.