Southampton groundsman Simon Lee, who is preparing the pitch for the World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and New Zealand at the Ageas bowl has said that he aims to produce a pitch that has good pace and bounce.
"Pitch preparation for this Test is a little simpler as we are a neutral venue, we are guided by the ICC, but we all want is a good pitch that offers an even contest between the teams," Lee told ESPNCricinfo.
"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 wants the pacers to be in the game all the time. "Pace just makes red-ball cricket exciting, I'm a cricket fan and I want to produce a pitch where the cricket lovers have to watch every ball in case they miss something, be that some class batting or an amazing spell of bowling," Lee said.
"A maiden over can be quite exciting if it's a battle of skill between both bowler and batter. So, yeah, if we can get some pace and bounce in the pitch, but not too one-sided towards seam movement, we'll be happy," he added.
Both teams have some quality spinners in their ranks. While Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are set to be in the playing XI, New Zealand will have to pick from one of Ajaz Patel of Mitchell Santner.
Lee says that the spinners will also come into play at some point in the game.
"As I said, the forecast is looking okay, 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, but it can help it spin as well."
"To get to that point we'll need the seamers to bowl, some runs scored, and make some rough along the way. The pitch will always get talked about a lot, but you need the players to play their part to make a good game," the curator said. "...so if we produce a pitch that allows the players to show their skills at the top level and we have an entertaining game for the fans, we will be more than satisfied."
New Zealand completed a 1-0 series win over England recently, their first win on English soil since 1999. Kane Williamson and Santner missed the second Test due to injuries but could be back in time for the WTC final, which is set to begin on June 18.