Different ball game: Duanne Olivier is looking forward to some grass in Bloemfontein. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Different ball game: Duanne Olivier is looking forward to some grass in Bloemfontein. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

For two nights now, the good people of Bloemfontein have been jolted wide awake by bad behemoths ripping and roaring around their sky with malevolent intent.

Or with startling beauty, depending on how you view thunderstorms. Whatever Bangladesh’s batsmen think, they should get used to the fire and brimstone.

Because once the second Test starts on Friday the thunder and lightning will be even louder and incredibly close.

How loud? Like Zeus belching in your ear. How close? Twenty-two yards.

What with Faf du Plessishaving had a go at the pure platteland plasticine pitch prepared in Potchefstroom for the first Test, and Bloem groundsman Nico Pretorius promising pace — as a former fast bowler himself he knows what that looks like — SA’s quicks are looking to "Bang a few Deshis".

And that, mind, after the Tigers were frogmarched back to their dressing room for a risible 90, their lowest Test total, in the second innings in Potch.

Which captain would not be happy with that?

A captain who knows Bloem harbours a pitch that yielded seven centuries and 20 wickets in a drawn franchise first-class match two weeks ago.

A survivor of that purgatory, in which the Knights and the Cobras piled up 1,249 runs between them, is back in Bloem for more of the same. Not.

"The wicket looks totally different," Knights and SA fast bowler Duanne Olivier said on Wednesday on the strength of having seen photographs of the work in progress, which show a vivid green carpet rudely alive with grass, that were sent to Du Plessis on Sunday.

"I think on day one it will be a bit slow but then there’ll be some bounce and it will quicken up towards day three and four," Olivier said.

"Two weeks ago the wicket was quite flat and there wasn’t much assistance, but this will be different," he said.

That is all good and well, but when last had Olivier played a game here in which the pitch favoured the seamers?

He thought for a moment … then another … then said: "Yes, I think two seasons ago we played the Titans on one of the side wickets.

"There was a bit of a slope and it gave us some assistance. At the same time you just expect the bowlers to run in and take all the wickets. It doesn’t matter to me; the wicket doesn’t need to be green to help us."

Not on the evidence of the first Test, in which Bangladesh managed to lose seven wickets for 41 on the final morning on a pitch that was barely marked and eminently playable despite having had 306.4 overs bowled on it during the first four days.

Morné Morkel fired SA’s attack in fine style until he limped off on the fourth afternoon with a torn side muscle that will keep him on a leash for up to six weeks.

The visitors have also suffered a blow, what with Tamim Iqbal — whose 52 caps make him Bangladesh’s third-most experienced Test player — out with a thigh injury.

They seem to be spooked by that calamity, so much so that they barred the Bangladeshi media corps from attending their training session in the indoor nets on Wednesday.

More rain has been forecast for Thursday morning, which will only add to groundsman Pretorius’s challenge.

And much will depend on Bangladesh not winning the toss and refusing to bat, which is what they did in Potch.

But Olivier, good boerseun that he is, had an eye on the bigger picture.

"It’s not ideal weather but we need the rain," he said.

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