Preparing a pitch during a month of rain

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Jobs do not get much tougher than preparing a cricket pitch during a month of rain. But that is what the University of Otago Oval ground staff have been tasked with.

It is also something Otago coach Rob Walter feels they have done extremely well.

He is expecting a good wicket for today’s Plunket Shield match between Otago and Auckland.

It is the earliest first-class fixture Dunedin has hosted in 155 years of the sport.

There has been 156mm of rain in the past month, including 29.4mm on Monday and Tuesday, according to MetService.

”The ground staff have done an amazing job,” Walter said.

”They continue to amaze me in terms of what they get up and prepare for us with the weather that’s been about for most of October.

”The pitch looks a good one given the rain that’s been around and the lack of warmth, so I think it’ll be a good wicket.”

Otago has made two changes from the side which was soundly beaten by Wellington at the Basin Reserve last week.

Spinners Mark Craig and Michael Rippon come into the squad, replacing seam bowler Travis Muller and injured opening batsman Camden Hawkins.

Dale Phillips will slide up one spot to open the batting in place of Hawkins.

Auckland has made one change from last week’s win over Central Districts. Graeme Beghin replaces Martin Guptill, who departs for the Black Caps series against England.

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