New Zealand’s coach Mike Hesson has equated the Blacktown Oval pitch with “day four in Abu Dhabi” and defended his team’s insistence that the strip was unsafe for play after the Cricket Australia XI ran up a tally of 1 for 503.
The tourists are now set to fly to Brisbane on Saturday after being left thoroughly frustrated with the preparation afforded to them in Sydney over the past two days. Hesson was not shy in criticising the conditions but said New Zealand would not be retaliating when Australia cross the Tasman Sea for a return series next year.
“I’d describe it as a jigsaw with half the pieces missing,” Hesson said of the pitch. “Similar to about a day four in Abu Dhabi. They’re unable to grow any grass here at this time of the year so it was basically like rolled mud with a little topping on it.
“As it dried, it baked and bits started falling out of it. It was going to last for a period of time, but when the second new ball came on last night, once you start taking hunks out of the surface, that’s when it becomes unsuitable. We’ve just had two days here and haven’t gained a lot out of it from a preparation point of view other than time on our feet, which is always useful.”
Asked to respond to those who might be cynical about a match abandoned after such a lopsided first innings in favour of batsmen, Hesson said it was necessary to look beyond the scoreboard. “I think you probably need to look at the game and see what unfolded,” he said. “And speak to Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill
“The pitch wasn’t up to first-class standard. Take nothing away from Aaron [Finch] and [Ryan] Carters, they played well early on but it certainly deteriorated after that.
“We also had feedback that the surface here was not going to be anything like what we were going to face in Brisbane. So I think playing a three-day, first-class game is fine, we came into it with the best of intentions and unfortunately they haven’t been able to grow any grass on the wicket.”
As for the fact that New Zealand have been forced to field first in their past two tour games on pitches bearing absolutely no resemblance to the strip expected in Brisbane, Hesson said no one in the tour party had travelled to Australia looking for an easy ride.
“You don’t turn up to any countries expecting favours,” he said. “We batted a day in Canberra and got 370 for 2 and that served some value but I think the last couple of days, we realised this wasn’t up to first-class standard. We will be right once we get to Brisbane … and train on wickets that will be relatively similar to the surface.”
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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