- Publish Date
- Tuesday, 15 June 2021, 9:40AM
The New Zealand cricket team's bid to win the World Test Championship looks set to get under way under the threat of some grim spring weather in Southampton.
The one-off, five-day test match against India starts on Friday evening NZ time and the UK's Met Office is currently predicting light rain and moderate breeze around Southampton's Ageas Bowl for the duration of the event.
However, the weather in the days leading up to Friday could have an even greater impact on the contest than any stretches of disruption to play during the match itself.
The Met Office has issued a "Yellow warning" for the wider Southampton region which lists a number of ominous weather possibilities such as "a small chance that homes and businesses could be flooded quickly, with damage to some buildings from floodwater, lightning strikes, hail and strong winds".
This weather warning has been issued for the two days leading up to the match, as well as the opening day, a period traditionally crucial within the process of pitch preparation.
Simon Lee, the groundsman tasked with preparing the 20m of clay and soil that will help decide which team is the best-of-the-best in test cricket, is hoping to unveil a fast, lively pitch but this current forecast may affect that plan.
On Monday, Lee told Cricinfo.com that the weather was looking good, but he may not have looked further on from Wednesday when sunny skies give way to storms.
"For me personally I just want to get something out that has some pace, bounce and carry in the pitch. It can be a hard thing to do in England as the weather doesn't help us most of the time, but the forecast in the build-up is good with a lot of sun, so we are hopeful that we'll get some pace and a hard pitch without over-rolling it and killing it," Lee said.
With covers now expected to take their place over the pitch throughout the day before the match, there is now the potential for moisture to make its way into the surface, creating conditions that will most likely make batting a much harder proposition. However, Lee says there is hope in the fact the pitch itself has the capability to dry out fast, even if rain is a continuous threat.
"The pitches dry out very quickly here as we do have some sand mixed into our cricket loam, which helped it hold together when the pitches were re-laid some 10 years ago."
There is no doubt that damp, gloomy conditions - the kind commonly faced in New Zealand - favours the Black Caps.
On New Zealand soil the Black Caps have lost only five of 25 test matches against India, winning 10 of those. While in the more hot and humid conditions of India, the Black Caps have won just two of 34 tests.