Seddon Park groundsman Karl Johnson is regarded as one of the best in the business but his skills have been tested to the limit in the leadup to the first cricket test between New Zealand and Pakistan.
Temperatures have been hotter and humidity levels higher during the week preceding this test than Johnson can recall in his seven years tending to Hamilton's beautifully manicured cricket oval.
As a consequence he has had a battle on his hands to ensure the pitch retains enough moisture to last five days, but not too much to render it virtually unplayable for the batsmen on the first morning tomorrow.
"It's been extremely hot so it's been quite a challenge, a lot of the grass has been knocked around quite a bit with the amount of heat and humidity we've had," Johnson said.
"I'd like to have a little bit in it but also in the back of my mind is that if it gets really humid, the ball can swing a lot, and it has been really humid here. I don't want the wicket to swing and with a lot of zip and movement off the track, but obviously the bowlers would like that."
Johnson has kept the covers on the pitch longer than usual to ensure there is enough moisture in it but he admits more of the same weather on the first two or three days of the test would see a dry pitch later in the match.
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