Pitch battle can be won in Hobart

DESPITE a string of low scores on wickets in Bellerive Oval's new block, Cricket Australia venue operations manager Sean Cary said batsmen who apply themselves should be able to make runs in Friday's first Test between Australia and Sri Lanka.

Cricket Tasmania has been criticised for the state of the wickets created by a $440,000 upgrade designed to put more life into the pitches, but Cary said Queensland's score of 360 in a recent Sheffield Shield match in response to Tasmania's 95, indicated the players were not blameless.

"The new block has provided bowlers with more bounce and carry than the 'old' Bellerive pitch," Cary said.

"This is due to the rye grass and new clay mix. However, the new wicket has also shown that when batsmen apply themselves early, runs can be scored when they get set."

Despite his comments, Tasmania's top score in four Shield innings this season has been 196, while Western Australia was dismissed for 67 in its first innings at the ground in the most recent match held there.

The situation could play into the hands of Shane Watson who is set to drop down the order to fill the shoes of the retired Ricky Ponting.

Watson repeatedly said how much he loved opening when batting up the top of the Australian order.

But with Ed Cowan and David Warner the preferred pair to face the new ball in Hobart, and Phil Hughes expected to come in at first drop, Watson said he was far from uncomfortable taking over at No.4.