Preparing an international-standard wicket is a labour of love for Queenstown groundsman Peter Domigan.
And the 57-year-old has used his 25 years’ experience to provide something of a level local playing field for Kiwi cricketers.
New Zealand A plays a four-day warm-up match against England at the Events Centre in Frankton – on a pitch prepared by Domigan and his staff.
“We’ve tried to make a really good batting surface,” he says.
“[England] are a quality team – so we don’t want the game to be over too early. They’ll also want to have a good pitch to give their prospective Test batsmen a chance to have a good bat.”
Fine weather has helped ground staff prepare a flat wicket. Staff have also been cutting the outfield every second day to add speed.
“If you’re preparing a bowling wicket the pitch has slightly more moisture and a bit less brown grass – just so it will assist the ball a wee bit more.
“A batting wicket you’ll probably have it a bit drier and have the surface grass more brown so there’s less movement for the ball and it enables the batsman to play shots.”
Technical work on the wicket, which has hosted the likes of Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan in the past, began two weeks ago.
“We go through what we call the wetting-up process – getting water to depth through the soil.
“That’s so when we go to roll it up it’s got even moisture content.
“We form the base; go down probably 120-130mm. We get the base nice and hard and then work on the surface – finish the grass off so it’s going to be a good surface to play cricket on.”
Domigan, says the English team – with Test stars Kevin Pietersen, Alastair Cook and James Anderson – are also pleased with the results.
“They are a high-class team so their expectations are quite high but they’ve been very appreciative of what we’ve done.”
All you need to know
What: England v NZ XI
Where: Events Centre
When: Since yesterday to March 2
Tickets: Single day $15 (adult), $5 (under 18s), $30 (family of four) or $30/$10/$60 for four-day pass