Australia v India 2007-08 / News

Australia v India, 4th Test, Adelaide

Groundsman insists Adelaide 'will take turn'

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan in Adelaide

January 22, 2008

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India's previous visit to the Adelaide Oval saw them win on the final day and Australia wrapped up a turnaround victory in the Ashes last year © Getty Images
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As Brian Lara readied himself for his final Test match in Australia, needing 214 more runs to go past Allan Border's record mark of 11,174 runs, a friendly voice popped up to say, "There are enough runs in here, go for it." Sure enough he carved out a splendid 226 to end on a high. He was to later walk up to the man who urged him to score the runs and buy him a beer. Les Burdett has been the groundsman at the Adelaide Oval for close to 30 years and picks this out as his favourite.

The Adelaide Oval is famous for its 'Burdett Belters', pitches that batsmen usually feast on. The surface tended to favour draws in the late eighties, with six consecutive stalemates, but has produced just one since the India Test in 1992. "For me it's about a pitch that will go all the way so that the match finishes in the last session of the final day," Burdett said two days before the final Test in Adelaide. "It's a myth that Adelaide produces only draws. Since 1992 we've had only one draw here, that too a thrilling one against South Africa in 1998."

India's previous visit here saw them win on the final day and Australia wrapped up a turnaround victory in the Ashes last year, one that ended in the final session of the match. "The win ratio in the Adelaide Oval is far better than any other state in Australia. It tends to favour the batsman but that doesn't mean there are draws. The pitch here doesn't break apart but it has more bounce. In fact it's so good that we played a soccer match on December 28, a cricket game on 30 and another soccer game on January 1. It didn't get affected at all."

India's Perth win was engineered by a bunch of swing bowlers and Burdett thinks they could get some advantage here on the first two days. Rain is forecast but Burdett is confident that the drainage facilities at the ground will ensure they get some play. "It swings if there's cloud. Thursday and Friday have cloudy conditions forecast. But otherwise Adelaide is like Delhi. South Australia is supposed to be the driest state in the world. When the weather is cool it means the south westerly is blowing across and could help swing. The north wind comes off the desert. That's very hot and won't help that much."

Burdett thinks India should contemplate playing two spinners on this track, only because the track offers spin and bounce. "The pitch will take turn. The important thing is there will be bounce and carry. Tim May played for South Australia and he always spoke about better angles he got here compared to Sydney, where it turns slow. Anil Kumble is a class player and will do well. He bowled beautifully in Perth on a pitch not supposed to turn."

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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Players/Officials: Les Burdett
Series/Tournaments: India tour of Australia
Teams: Australia | India
Grounds: Adelaide Oval
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