Pitch report – Basin Reserve

New Zealand

We profile the venue for the second Test between New Zealand and the West Indies in Wellington.

<b>Established:</b> 1868<br><b>Capacity:</b> 11,600<br><b>Floodlights:</b> No<br><b>Ends:</b> Vance Stand End, Scoreboard End<br><b>Home Team:</b> Wellington<br><b>Test History:</b> 54 Tests; 14 home wins; 18 away wins; 22 draws<br><b>Last 10 Tests:</b> 2 home wins; 4 away wins; 4 draws<br><b>Last 10 tosses:</b> 4 batted first (2 wins, 1 defeat, 1 draw); 6 bowled first (1 win, 2 defeats, 3 draws)

<b>Overview</b><br>The Basin Reserve hosted its first Test in 1930, when openers Stewie Dempster and Jack Mills became the first New Zealanders to score Test tons in their stand of 276. England were the visitors on that occasion, and managed to hold on for a draw.

It wasn't until 1969 that New Zealand tasted victory on their most beautiful ground (it's protected by an Act of Parliament and is the only sports ground on New Zealand's National Heritage list) when the West Indies were the visitors.

Nestled beneath Mount Victoria and Mount Cook, the Basin is a proper cricket ground, with a cracking sun-trap of a grass bank on the eastern side, which also offers shelter from the notoriously unpredictable southerly winds that can whip across the ground.

The Basin Reserve owes its existence to an 1855 earthquake that levelled out enough ground for a cricket field, and is the scene of many of New Zealand cricket's finest moments: Sir Richard Hadlee took his 300th Test wicket here, while Martin Crowe (299) and Andrew Jones (186) put on 467 for the third wicket against Sri Lanka in 1990-1 – at that time a world record.

<b>Last Time Out</b><br>The second Test of England's visit earlier this year brought very inclement weather, resulting in a sodden draw. Host skipper Brendon McCullum became the latest Wellington victim unable to gain a win after triumphing at the toss.

Both teams opted for three specialist seamers and a lone spinner, with the part-times playing a considerable role as the fixture meandered. Very patient centuries from the left-handed Nick Compton and Alastair Cook ensured a big English total, after which fast bowler Stuart Broad spoke volumes of the conditions with a telling six-for – lined with swing and lateral movement off the seam.

<b>They Said</b><br>"It certainly does have a rather green tinge to it. We saw in the first Test our bowlers are certainly capable of extracting the most value out of those wickets. If the coin falls the right way then we'll get first use of it and I'm confident our bowlers will bowl that natural fuller length and hopefully we'll present a tough challenge to the West Indies batsmen." – New Zealand captain <b>Brendon McCullum</b>.

"Even in first-class cricket when you arrive there's normally a bit more grass on, but I've never seen it looking that green. It'll be interesting to see if it does as much as what it looks like it'll do. It's a little bit hard to pick it out from the rest of the block so I'm sure the bowlers will be happy. The last couple of years in New Zealand the wickets have been batter-friendly, so there are certainly no complaints from the batters. You don't expect it to be good for batting all the time." – New Zealand batsman <b>Peter Fulton</b>.

"It's going to be totally different than Dunedin. As a bowler I do enjoy coming here; a lot more pace and bounce and it does swing here. It was a pretty heavy workload but I'm feeling good. The whole bowling group are feeling good and taking a nice couple of easy days. Test cricket is extremely strenuous on the body and you've got to work out a plan and what works well for you. It takes a lot to keep going at that intensity and you've got to be smart with your down time." – New Zealand fast bowler <b>Trent Boult</b>.

"We have to look at the pitch first. We've heard some things about it, that we won't be able to tell the pitch from the outfield, so that will make us think for sure about two spinners or not. Shannon Gabriel did not have a good Test, he did not bowl very well, but we believe in him – that's why we picked him – he's shown he can be a quality performer. We have to give them the confidence they need." – West Indies coach <b>Ottis Gibson</b>.

"The proposed plans for the flyover have always been that any structure would not impact the actual physical boundaries of the Basin. The plans are that it would skirt 20 metres north of the boundary of the ground. Obviously there are some concerns around the visual impact and noise impact on any sport going on in the ground. The Trust has been very robust in its view on this, and has been from the start, that it won't necessarily object to the building of the bridge – as it is known – as long as the environment inside the Basin isn't compromised." – Cricket Wellington chief executive <b>Peter Clinton</b>.

"There were people who wanted to play cricket so they went to see the provisional council and said, 'If we get free labour, can we turn that swamp into something worthwhile?' One of them was the head man of the jail on the other side of the city. He had the free labour. The most important part of this ground is a certain pathway. You can walk right around the ground and you don't encounter any fence or wall. No matter what time of day cricket is being played, people are always walking there, whether it's to go to the toilets or to go for a cup of coffee. It's always alive." – Wellington cricket historian <b>Don Neely</b>.

<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br><b>Brendon McCullum</b> leads the batting pack here and is followed by <b>Ross Taylor</b>, but with a considerably greater average. 13 innings have brought Taylor 619 runs – and a ground aggregate some 13 runs more than his career average. McCullum, however, sports a mere average of 30.57 – a ton and four half-centuries contrast three ducks.

Seamers <b>Trent Boult</b> and <b>Neil Wagner</b>, meanwhile, would like to rekindle the promise they offered with two wickets apiece in March's rain-affected draw. The veteran <b>Shivnarine Chanderpaul</b> is, largely, the only survivor from the Windies' 2006 visit. The unorthodox batsman didn't score much then.

<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>The forecast signals small percentages of rain throughout the five days, although seemingly not enough to halt play for substantial periods. Inclement weather, too, is bound to mar the build-up. Temperatures, meanwhile, are not likely to exceed 22 degrees Celsius. Overhead conditions, no doubt, will influence the decision at the toss.

<b>Conclusion</b><br>The venue hasn't seen a result in more than three years, due mainly to Wellington's inclement weather. Conditions again, seem set for wet periods, but not as much as that experienced in Dunedin.

The patchy nature of the forecast and a considerably covering of grass across the pitch suggest a one-nil lead in the three-match affair is on the cards. Which side takes it, however, will rely on the threat and followthrough of the seamers.

Both sides will consider fielding an all-pace attack, with the Black Caps