India in England 2011

India faced with green Edgbaston pitch

Nagraj Gollapudi in Birmingham

August 8, 2011

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Edgbaston head groundsman Steve Rouse works on the pitch ahead of the third Test, Edgbaston, August 8 2011
Edgbaston head groundsman Steve Rouse works on the pitch ahead of the third Test © PA Photos
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Series/Tournaments: India tour of England
Teams: England | India

"You guys are going to get another green pitch at Edgbaston, aren't you?" suggested Peter Willey, former England player and ICC Elite panel umpire, during India's tour match in Northampton. He was not far off the mark.

The first impression upon entering Edgbaston is that there is almost no discernible difference between the pitch and the thick green carpet of grass that covers the rest of the ground. There is a decent covering on the surface of the pitch, Steve 'Rebel' Rouse, the Edgbaston head groundsman, says "some of it" would be cut come Wednesday. In what is going to be his farewell Test, Rouse said that the pitch would be slow compared to the faster tracks witnessed at Lord's and Trent Bridge in the last two weeks.

If there was any assurance Rouse had for India, it was that the pitch for the third Test would not be anything like the one on which Worcestershire, with two batsmen retired hurt and another 'absent injured', were thrashed by 218 runs by Warwickshire in May. Warwickshire were docked eight points after an ECB pitch panel found that pitch "poor".

"It has some grass on it at the moment, some of it will come off. It won't be quick. We haven't had the intense heat for a week now," Rouse said. According to Rouse, the temperatures have been pretty cold and damp the entire summer except for just two warm days - not the ideal conditions to give him enough time to prepare a harder pitch. There's also the forecast of heavy rain on Saturday to add to the mix, but Rouse believed that England's bowling attack could still force a four-day finish.

"The England attack is a quality one," said Rouse. "They bowl well together in pairs, bowl good lengths and they are extremely fit and can go on bowling for hours." He also added that India's attack could find just as much life in the wicket as the hosts, provided they get the basics right. "As long as you pitch in line, using your lengths, and as long as you can move it around it does not matter if the pitch is slow," he said.

The last match played on this pitch was the Championship game between Warwickshire and Sussex just over two weeks ago, during which Warwickshire were asked to bat first and recovered from 192 for 6 to make 521, with their last four wickets accounting for 329 runs. In reply Sussex were forced to follow-on and Warwickshire won the match by an innings and 43 runs.

"I am not a great believer of having flat, flat, flat wickets," Rouse said. "I always think the new ball should do something. It is a good contest to get a good bowler against a good batsman and then it is bat versus ball for about 90 minutes. And if you nick, you are out. After lunch as the ball gets softer it should even out a bit."

Interestingly, in the last Test played at the ground, between Pakistan and England last August, the pitch took turn from the second day, with Saeed Ajmal taking a five-for. The next day Graeme Swann took a six-wicket haul to help set England an easy target to chase, which they duly did with a nine-wicket victory on the fourth morning.

Rouse ruled out spinners playing such a significant role here, however, mainly due to the prevailing overcast conditions. "It won't turn massively off the straight," he said.

Rouse was unequivocal when asked about England's chances, saying: "England always win at Edgbaston. Always." There is some truth in his words, as in the 45 matches played at the ground, England have won 23 and lost eight. But three of those defeats have come in the last decade.

As a farewell gift, Rouse suggested he wouldn't mind if his favourite cricketer scored a century, if not a double ton. "If Sachin Tendulkar can score a century I will be really happy," Rouse said, before walking out to get the covers on.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Clive_Dunn on (August 9, 2011, 18:43 GMT)

Personally I thought India well deserved the number one ranking, but for their performances over the past 5 years or so. In the last 18 months this has clearly been a team on the cusp of veteran and past it, and it seemed a tough tour would always expose that - so far, dravid aside, the batsmen appear to have hit that wall of getting in and then getting out to a decent ball. A few years back it would have been an inside edge onto pad, now it's an easy lbw decision. Just part of getting older I'm afraid.

Posted by Cricket_Analyst on (August 9, 2011, 16:46 GMT)

Before the Series Began, i was also expecting India to win the series.However half way through, i have been proved wrong by England Team, England have played well.Period. Indians have come under prepared. No Excuses. They have let away the advantage slip in both the tests. However some of the comments from Stuart Brooking & Steve Spragg makes me believe how desperately they have been "waiting for this moment" for last 15 years, that is the last time England won a test series against India. Mate, We can Understand that this is the right time for you to uncork the bottled frustration. Go On.

Posted by Shan156 on (August 9, 2011, 15:29 GMT)

@rahulcricket007, Anderson's stats in India are actually better than Zaheer's. Granted he hasn't played as many tests in India as Anderson and so the stats may not paint the complete picture. But, Anderson has bowled to much better batsmen in India than Zaheer has. Wouldn't you agree?

Posted by sandson on (August 9, 2011, 14:45 GMT)

Things you can fit into the gaping hole of Indian middle order in 2 years.. A meteor.. Empire state building.. Big Ben.. It would be a miracle if india were to be in top 5 of test cricket after the Big 3 retire..the worst part is they still have no replacements in their radar yet..

Posted by ramps2000 on (August 9, 2011, 14:36 GMT)

@Shankar. Quite agree about the rather one-eyed comments. Rather too many people on this site (on both sides of the partisan fence) seem to have unbalanced perspectives. Refreshing to hear a few more considered comments here. I happen to agree with Valavan that there isn't really a dominant team in the world at the moment in the same way that the Aussies and WI dominated in the past.

If you wanted to be harsh, you could say that England are the one-eyed man in the land of the blind that is test cricket at the moment. But that would not be a fair commentary on the excellent cricket they have played the past couple of years (home and away) nor the great commitment they have shown to get there. I am sympathetic to the injury problems suffered by India but wonder if they might have performed better with a more committed preparation by some of their players. Was it ONE first-class game in six months or so for Zaheer Khan?..v

Posted by robodrecone on (August 9, 2011, 14:28 GMT)

not an England nor Indian supporter....... (both supporters are over themselves in argument)....but i must say right now England is the side to beat in tests (only South Africa right now can give them a fight) India lacks depth in pace & seam bowling to win this series. They will always do good in sub-continental pitches (spinner-friendly, little of no bounce).....hence why they won the World Cup. If England can go in India & dominate....then we can see England being either #1 or #2 (unless South Africa has something 2 say about it)

Posted by sandson on (August 9, 2011, 14:24 GMT)

@Ranil herath I think the idea of neutral pitches would rob the real essence of cricket.. If every pitch in the world behaves in the same way they might as well play in my backyard.. But pitches should be consonant with a country's climate,milieu etc.. And pitches are the singular determining factor of how a country plays.. England,SA,AUS have allround teams because of the 'sporting' pitches and India have very few great fast bowlers coz of the dustbowls..

Posted by Rohanartoo on (August 9, 2011, 14:02 GMT)

I think ruling India out of the series yet and calling them the worst side to occupy no. 1 status is jumping the gun a bit. England still have to tour India for them to prove their supremacy in alien conditions, and India's a place they have never truly done well. Still assuming that they will struggle in India based on historical data, is again silly, as the same was said of England before they toured Australia, but they ended up winning the Ashes and won 3 tests. So all the postulating is pretty much nonsense. That said England have yet to gain no. 1 ranking and yet to prove how good they will be at the top. It will be interesting to see how effective Anderson and Co. will be given that India will not be using the Duke ball in the return leg of the series. Neither India nor England have reached the top 2 of the ranking for nothing and a few over-enthusiastic fans claiming reason on one hand and on the other denouncing the Indian side as the worst no. 1 side is really quite funny.

Posted by   on (August 9, 2011, 13:45 GMT)

First of all hello to England supporters.Already we have won test series in England.Hope England didn't won in India from the birth of cricket.Rank changes now and then.But we won in Your home soil first but that position u cant reach.India Rocks.....

Posted by   on (August 9, 2011, 13:07 GMT)

My dear England fans are going overboard --Mind you all Indian fans have conceded without excuses that England played better than India in both the tests But you cannot jump to roof top and shout that You are the no.1 in the world after two wins A side totering at 85 for 5 at Lords and 128 for 8 at Trent Bridge cannot bcome a world beating side overnight You cover up your deficiencies at your own peril Your openers are as bad as Indians and middle order much more vulnerable But your bowling has been a revelation--Till you have some height to scale to reach the summit But as regards India who are already there they look like descending But none could contest their potential--We lookl forward to a fight back as the team has shown character lot of times in the past few years whether it is at home or green top like Perth We always take in our stride genuine criticism--But English fans have posted theirr comments as if there is a big gulf between the two teams talentwise-A big NO

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