Cricket: Pitch given eight by groundsman

University Oval groundsman Tom Tamati scored the pitch he produced for Otago's Plunket Shield match against Central Districts as an eight.

It was a good surface but there was room for improvement, he suggested.

It was certainly an improvement on the spent offering produced in mid-November for the first-class game against Canterbury. That pitch was lifeless but this week's wicket had good bounce and carry.

''The main difference was we had an extra couple of weeks worth of grass growth,'' Tamati said.

''That meant the grass was stronger and it could withstand more rolling which meant we could get the density up and make the whole wicket harder. And the grass was still alive rather than dead, so you could work it a lot more.''

Tamati said he was hoping for more pace and plans to leave more grass on the pitch he prepares for the first test against England in March.

''I would like to get more pace out of it but it is not far off - probably an eight out of 10.

''The only thing I would do differently, and it is only a minute difference, would be try and leave a bit more grass on it.''

Of course, more grass on the pitch offers the seam bowlers more assistance. So it is always a trade off between trying to get some pace into the pitch and making sure it is not too lively.

Getting the balance right can depend a lot on the weather leading up to the game.