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Cowan slams 'poor' Bellerive wicket

By Chris Pike
25 February 2014 09:44PM EST

TASMANIAN opener Ed Cowan has called upon the Bellerive curator to fix his current 'poor' wicket if anything resembling a good cricket pitch will be provided for Sheffield Shield matches.

Despite the Tigers beating Queensland by 183 runs in the recent Shield match that concluded Sunday, stand-in skipper Cowan virtually knew that the odds were firmly in his team's favour once they posted 350 in the first innings.

With the way the Blundstone Arena pitch has been deteriorating and becoming near impossible to score on by Days 3 and 4, Cowan knew that Queensland were going to find it tough to chase down any fourth innings total and that's just what happened with the Bulls all out for 149.

Cowan did not hold back on what he thought of the wicket after the win over Queensland.

"Unfortunately I think the wicket here at the moment is pretty poor. If you bat first you are generally going to win the game. We lost a game against NSW batting first, but Hilf injured himself mid-game and we struggled to bowl them out on the first day," Cowan said.

"We were 100 ahead on the first innings in that game, though, and should have won. Unfortunately it's something that needs to be addressed if the style of cricket that the Tasmanian team wants to play is going to come out.

"The wicket was better last year to be fair so I don’t know. I'm no expert when it comes to grounds keeping but I have played on some cricket wickets the last 10 years and there haven’t been too many that have been like this."

With the lack of bounce in the pitch and with it being so abrasive that by the last couple of days the ball starts to reverse swing at times within 10 overs, Cowan sees plenty of reasons that the wicket must improve.

"It's certainly not a green wicket, but it starts wet and then by the end of Day 1 it's a pretty good batting wicket for about two hours, and maybe for two hours on Day 2. And then it just deteriorates really quickly and we saw in our second innings that Queensland had the ball reverse swinging in the eighth or ninth over," he said.

"And the ball was keeping low so it makes scoring nigh on impossible in that second innings. We've certainly had a consistency of wicket here and it's been the same every game, but that still doesn’t make it a good wicket. Players generally just want bounce in the wicket.

"If there is bounce in the wicket the fast bowlers are in the game even if it's not moving sideways, and that's still a fair game. The batters can still score and put bad balls away, but at the moment bowlers are able to miss their length badly and still might take a wicket off that ball."

Tasmania finally returned to the Shield's winnings list with the win at home over Queensland having not won outright since Round 1 against Tasmania at Blacktown way back in early November.

Cowan has no doubt that given the pitch, the win was set up with the Tigers making 350 in the first innings which was helped along by 93 from Cowan.

"It has been a very long time. Round 1 was our last full outright win so it's a nice feeling in the change room at the moment. We have played some really good cricket since then, but we've played some pretty poor cricket as well. It's nice to get a win," he said.

"We talked about the last game that was played here and it's a very different wicket batting last on. Those first innings run are almost worth one and-a-half so it was a big focus to make sure that our first innings total at least had a three in front of it.

"We knew once that happened and regardless of how long that took us, the game would speed up. We've seen all season how long the game accelerates here on days three and four."

Cowan was obviously pleased to get some runs for Tasmania and also to put together a 143-run stand with 27-year-old Steve Kazzulino.

"It's my job so I was very satisfied to get a good score," Cowan said.

"I had a great partnership with Steve Kazzulino who came back into the side and played beautiful so it was nice to set up that total. That's your job and you take pride in doing it."

The win over Queensland improved Tasmania to 16 points on the Shield table to be eight behind leaders South Australia and Western Australia, and six back from third-placed NSW with two games of the season to go.

Those last two matches for Tasmania begin against Victoria at the MCG in the twilight round starting March 3 before playing South Australia at Bellerive in the final round with the Tigers knowing they need two outright wins to be a surprise chance of making the final.

"We've got a little sniff since but we are still ruing a couple of bad hours in different matches during the season that could see us in a really nice position. If we win the next two, though, you just never know I guess," Cowan said.

"It's exciting and what a great initiative. We are looking forward to that. We are also throwing around the idea that Jackson might be back for that game if he doesn’t play the Third Test so fingers crossed. We have played really well away from home this year and hopefully that continues."

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