England v India, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge July 5, 2014

'Don't want teams bowled out for 180' - Trent Bridge curator

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Trent Bridge, the venue for the first Test, is rightly being considered India's biggest test, but the challenge lies in the quality of the bowling and overhead conditions, according to Steve Birks, the man in charge of the pitch. With four days to go, the pitch does not look green or menacing from a distance. However, if you look at it up close, it is covered with eight to nine millimetres of straw-coloured grass, which is not live but can provide seamers assistance.

"The grass is dry, and we have been pushing it in every day," Birks said. "We have been watering around the edges. We don't want teams bowled out for 180."

Stuart Broad's grumblings about the pitches provided for the Sri Lanka series have had no impact on the preparation of this surface, Birks said. "You can't try to keep too many people happy," Birks said. "Bowlers want one thing. Batsmen want one thing. If you can just do your best, it is up to them to perform."

One of Broad's concerns - the poor carry at Lord's and Headingley - is not expected to resurface. "We are trying to get a bit of carry," Birks said, knocking the surface to demonstrate how hard it is underneath the brown grass. "If we get carry we are happy. There should be good carry. Four days to go, it is hard. Really hard."

Coming to their backyard, James Anderson and Broad should not need to worry too much: they take wickets in their sleep at Trent Bridge. Anderson has struck 49 times for 17 runs apiece, and Broad has 21 wickets at 23.

The length of the grass on the pitch is crucial. In 2011, Birks was quoted in The Cricketer magazine as saying: "When we won the Championship, we were cutting the wickets at 7mm and last year we flattened them out a bit more at 5mm. I don't want to pre-empt what Mick Newell [the Nottinghamshire coach] has to say but I've a feeling we might be changing that next season."

How much shorter are we going to go from the current length? "We have got 8mm at the moment," Birks said. "Monday-Tuesday, we will trim it to down to maybe 6, and then have a look at that [and see] if we need to go lower. Looking dry. Nice straw-coloured look to it."

That sounds somewhere between angel and monster.

Birks might say he does not want teams getting bowled out for 180, but that has been the general trend at Trent Bridge. When India came here in 2011, both first innings ended pretty early before the pitch settled down. The same happened in the thrilling Ashes Test last year, when England's first innings lasted 59 overs, and Australia's 65. And yet we had a match that was alive on the final afternoon. In the last first-class match at Trent Bridge, Somerset were bowled out for 168 on the first day, but the next two innings were 461 and 402.

All signs point to putting teams in, but Birks thinks it looks like a bat-first pitch. "Looking at the surface, it has looked like a decent bat-first wicket," he said, "but then we have bowled first some days and we have got teams out easy. It all depends on the bowlers and the overhead conditions."

The week before the Test has been dry, allowing smooth preparation, but the next few days have rain forecast. It rained all of Friday night too, which could help the pitch retain some moisture and even provide a tinge of green.

The flattening out of the surface in later stages of matches has been consistent with the changing nature of all the pitches in England. The new drainage system has made sure the moisture disappears much faster than before. Trent Bridge, though, has retained help for seamers. "We did struggle with it for the first two years but then most of us got used to it," Birks said. "We try to leave a fraction more moisture in it. We water the ends a lot more, leading up to the game."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 9, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    i think india its first batting..its better obviously be the openers good batting.. performance. in this pitch i think india won the match

  • landl47 on July 7, 2014, 4:28 GMT

    I'd much rather see teams bowled out for 180 than bat for 2 days and score 600-5. An ideal pitch in my mind would make 250-350 par scores for the first innings of each side and 150-250 par scores for the second innings. That would ensure a result, keep the game tense and close and allow individual performances to shine.

    Test cricket ought to be an even contest between bat and ball and reward hard work by both batsmen and bowlers. If there is an advantage, it ought to be to the bowlers. Bowlers toiling away while batsmen have it easy on featherbed wickets is no fun to watch.

  • Sexysteven on July 7, 2014, 4:10 GMT

    The groundsman doesn't want teams out for 180 what crap I'd rather that then 600 plays 500 at least there would be a result if it's low scoring alongs it not one sided and it's fair for both teams there's nothing wrong with that if it doesn't last the five days so be it it beats a meandering draw anyday

  • on July 7, 2014, 3:27 GMT

    I wonder which team has got better batting options in swinging conditions. Both India and England have got quality swing bowlers. If there is assistance from the pitch, the batsmen will have a tough time. We have seen recently in Bangladesh that in testing conditions their batting just collapses. The same could be said about England. Having said that, being in a test match situation of such an anticipated series, might force batsmen to apply themselves better

  • Kinguru007. on July 7, 2014, 3:15 GMT

    As a Srilankan supporter I don't know why some have this mind set that asian pitches should only support for batting and spin but English, Down under and South African pitches should be more fast bowling friendly. How long we going complain about it. Teams should be prepared to face any bowling attack. I think all the asian teams should think differently.

  • OneEyedAussie on July 7, 2014, 2:32 GMT

    Sounds like England will prepare a pitch that will not offer much for the spinners by holding together and moderate assistance for the fast men. Such a strategy suits England's strengths as they don't have Swann and they will back Broad and Anderson to extract a little life out of the surface.

  • on July 7, 2014, 2:03 GMT

    key will obviously be the openers, especially Vijay who looks good whenever he tries to grind the New ball. for me dhawan is not international material. but still we all.know he will open and I hope he does good.... and if rohit is not played rahane plays at 5 and jaddu should play at 6 instead.of dhoni... jaddu is the man who has the ability to score big runs ( 3 triple tons ins not small thing) and if he gets some time in middle he will flourish his opportunity.....and my set of.bowlers will be shami, bhuvi, ishwar, and ishant ( we can't drop him, he is greatest bowler ever :-P )

  • sudhindranath on July 7, 2014, 1:43 GMT

    Note the first two days of play, the maximum temperature is going to be 20 deg C. Which means most of those two days, it will be cloudy and cold (for players from India).

    It does look like England would put India in if they win the toss. If India were to bat first, they will have to score 300+, or at least 250. Any score below 200 will be disastrous for them. But it can't be ruled out especially since this has been a happy hunting ground for the duo of Anderson and Broad over the past 4-5 years..

  • on July 6, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    You are right mr. Kalyan budhavartiat

  • on July 6, 2014, 9:42 GMT

    Two series Rohit does not perform and people are questioning his place but 10 years Mr captain has done nothing in 10 years and people still sing his laurels. People who like Dhoni in tests, don't love test cricket. Period. People who want Jadeja in the test team, don't know test cricket. When it comes to Rohit, the scores in India do not matter, but for the captain yes, because he still does'nt have an overseas century. Hypocrisy? He has just played 3 series, and even in those 2 series, he was better than Dhoni. Give him time, he is the ideal No.5 for India. Plus, something obvious which most people including the captain and coach are missing is utilizing him with the ball. Look at what JP does for SA, Root for Eng. And responsibility makes him better. Plus, and I guess, most importantly, Kohli also likes him. And Rahane and him are Mumbai's back.

  • on July 9, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    i think india its first batting..its better obviously be the openers good batting.. performance. in this pitch i think india won the match

  • landl47 on July 7, 2014, 4:28 GMT

    I'd much rather see teams bowled out for 180 than bat for 2 days and score 600-5. An ideal pitch in my mind would make 250-350 par scores for the first innings of each side and 150-250 par scores for the second innings. That would ensure a result, keep the game tense and close and allow individual performances to shine.

    Test cricket ought to be an even contest between bat and ball and reward hard work by both batsmen and bowlers. If there is an advantage, it ought to be to the bowlers. Bowlers toiling away while batsmen have it easy on featherbed wickets is no fun to watch.

  • Sexysteven on July 7, 2014, 4:10 GMT

    The groundsman doesn't want teams out for 180 what crap I'd rather that then 600 plays 500 at least there would be a result if it's low scoring alongs it not one sided and it's fair for both teams there's nothing wrong with that if it doesn't last the five days so be it it beats a meandering draw anyday

  • on July 7, 2014, 3:27 GMT

    I wonder which team has got better batting options in swinging conditions. Both India and England have got quality swing bowlers. If there is assistance from the pitch, the batsmen will have a tough time. We have seen recently in Bangladesh that in testing conditions their batting just collapses. The same could be said about England. Having said that, being in a test match situation of such an anticipated series, might force batsmen to apply themselves better

  • Kinguru007. on July 7, 2014, 3:15 GMT

    As a Srilankan supporter I don't know why some have this mind set that asian pitches should only support for batting and spin but English, Down under and South African pitches should be more fast bowling friendly. How long we going complain about it. Teams should be prepared to face any bowling attack. I think all the asian teams should think differently.

  • OneEyedAussie on July 7, 2014, 2:32 GMT

    Sounds like England will prepare a pitch that will not offer much for the spinners by holding together and moderate assistance for the fast men. Such a strategy suits England's strengths as they don't have Swann and they will back Broad and Anderson to extract a little life out of the surface.

  • on July 7, 2014, 2:03 GMT

    key will obviously be the openers, especially Vijay who looks good whenever he tries to grind the New ball. for me dhawan is not international material. but still we all.know he will open and I hope he does good.... and if rohit is not played rahane plays at 5 and jaddu should play at 6 instead.of dhoni... jaddu is the man who has the ability to score big runs ( 3 triple tons ins not small thing) and if he gets some time in middle he will flourish his opportunity.....and my set of.bowlers will be shami, bhuvi, ishwar, and ishant ( we can't drop him, he is greatest bowler ever :-P )

  • sudhindranath on July 7, 2014, 1:43 GMT

    Note the first two days of play, the maximum temperature is going to be 20 deg C. Which means most of those two days, it will be cloudy and cold (for players from India).

    It does look like England would put India in if they win the toss. If India were to bat first, they will have to score 300+, or at least 250. Any score below 200 will be disastrous for them. But it can't be ruled out especially since this has been a happy hunting ground for the duo of Anderson and Broad over the past 4-5 years..

  • on July 6, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    You are right mr. Kalyan budhavartiat

  • on July 6, 2014, 9:42 GMT

    Two series Rohit does not perform and people are questioning his place but 10 years Mr captain has done nothing in 10 years and people still sing his laurels. People who like Dhoni in tests, don't love test cricket. Period. People who want Jadeja in the test team, don't know test cricket. When it comes to Rohit, the scores in India do not matter, but for the captain yes, because he still does'nt have an overseas century. Hypocrisy? He has just played 3 series, and even in those 2 series, he was better than Dhoni. Give him time, he is the ideal No.5 for India. Plus, something obvious which most people including the captain and coach are missing is utilizing him with the ball. Look at what JP does for SA, Root for Eng. And responsibility makes him better. Plus, and I guess, most importantly, Kohli also likes him. And Rahane and him are Mumbai's back.

  • Cric_Guy_Surya on July 6, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    Dry wickets would mean a greater advantage to India.

  • AKS286 on July 6, 2014, 8:07 GMT

    No doubt POMS are favorites and will win this series. This is the golden opportunity for Cook,Root, Prior & Bell to get in form. Good to see Plunkett after many years, He deserve spot in ODI and T20 too. But Plunkett should play as an all-rounder not third seamer we saw Bresnan lost his batting capabilities as he become third seamer (as he never look likes as a third seamer).I miss Onion as a third seamer , and also Rolan Jones & great talent Hales is missing he can replace KP's place. Woakes don't deserve to be in squad.Tredwell is also a good spin option if ENG want to add specialist spinner. Still believe in Carbs over Robson. Carbs, Root, Cook, Hales, Bell, Ballance, Prior, Plunkett/Tedwell, Broad, Roland, Jimmy.

  • ThePacifist10 on July 6, 2014, 7:38 GMT

    @Srikumar Narayan

    This team is ready to fight, unlike you. The Test tours of SA and NZ prove that. Your pessimism is beyond disgusting. Not the kind of support the boys need before a tour. Not realistic either.

  • ladycricfan on July 6, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    So, what will Dhoni do, bat first or bowl first? From what the curator says, it is not clear what is best to do on this pitch.

  • on July 6, 2014, 6:27 GMT

    The English are playing mind games here on the pitch subject. Mark my words: the match will be over in 4 days. Anderson is literally unplayable at Trend Bridge and why would they want it harder fifth him there? India on the contrary don't have the bowlers to pick 20 wickets. As simple as that. Nor do Indians have the batsmen to score 300 runs in the first innings which is crucial. 1-0 at Trend Bridge. Can we move on to the second test please?

  • ishaan1997 on July 6, 2014, 5:53 GMT

    Rohit has wasted his oppurtunities in sa and nz, whereas rahane grabbed it with both hands!. And pls dont count his scores of 177 and 115 in India vs WI, he wasn't given a delhi pitch against aus which was difficult to bat on.(Rahane's Debut) And moreover, it is not a series in India, it's in abroad, less flat tracks. You should check rohit's record combined in both nz and sa and compare with anyone in the top order(vijay,dhawan,kohli,pujara,rahane)

  • on July 6, 2014, 5:07 GMT

    Everyone leaving out Rohit Sharma from the squad? What has he done wrong to deserve that?

  • on July 6, 2014, 3:50 GMT

    India should play 5 specialist batsman ,a wicket keeper two all rounders and 3 fast bowlers,that is the best way to win a test match in overseas conditions. 1.vijay 2.dhawan 3.pujara 4.kholi 5.rahane 6.msd 7.jaddu 8.binny 9.bhuvi 10.Ishant/pankaj 11.Shami ahmed. If the wicket is dry india should play ishanth as he can bowl the long spells.

  • on July 6, 2014, 2:04 GMT

    @kartcric U have to understand that a player always has his first. The next time Bhuvi comes to South Africa, he will improve. And he should have been chosen for the squad. If he isn't, then how would he understand the English pitch the next time where there is no MSD, IS, etc?

  • ThePacifist10 on July 6, 2014, 1:57 GMT

    Well we had a greentop at Wellington, and our bowlers massacred the NZ-ers, whereas our batsmen were so much more comfortable. Please give us a helpful pitch ECB! Our batsmen will be fine, but our bowlers will need this help. If it's a hard pitch then we'll need Aaron to break through England. He must do what Johnson did to Eng in Aus and what Plunkett did to SL in End. New Team Plan: Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Dhoni, Binny, Jadeja, Shami, Pankaj, Aaron.

  • on July 6, 2014, 0:54 GMT

    As Nampally said, one of the the key factors in India's performance will be the choice of the opening batsmen. Batsmen with patience and technique are needed. Most of us know who they are.

    Frankly I am not comfortable with Dhawan as an opener in tests. Dhawan, as a middle order batsman? Yes! Not an opener in tests. Gouti seem to have regained confidence; but he still has the occasional urge to poke at the swinging ball, either outside-edging to the close in fielders, or inside-edging on to the stumps.

  • Robster1 on July 6, 2014, 0:22 GMT

    The most exciting matches are usually when the ball slightly dominates the bat. Teams scoring over 350 in an innings often makes for a bore draw, especially with the English weather. High scoring dull matches though do keep the chief executives happy though with 5 days of revenue.

  • on July 5, 2014, 23:37 GMT

    Jadeja is good all rounder with his bowling, fielding and some extent his batting ability. He has ability to manipulate length and speed which will be handful. England usually no good handling these type of bowlers except Bell. He will be key if England need to make big score. England desperate to win this series to start their confident back. I am guessing england bit favourite this time.

  • kc69 on July 5, 2014, 21:49 GMT

    Is this some sort of joke to trick visiting team India?, I cannot seriously buy the fact that batting friendly tracks are being prepared.Everyone in England know that India struggle on fast bouncy tracks and if this kind of surface is provided India will have advantage.Regarding Moeen Ali I think any Batsmen in India can play spin well, even if its R Ashwin for me player to watch out for is Tremlett.

  • Indians-love-flattracks on July 5, 2014, 18:45 GMT

    I think india will find it difficult where ever they play in England. I honestly think they play their best cricket in slow pitches like the ones found in Bangladesh or the Eden gardens. Their youngsters are a treat to watch in those pitches.

    Really hope there are less innings defeat this time around. Wish the Indian team the best of luck and strength to Ishant Sharma to lead the attack.

  • JustIPL on July 5, 2014, 18:35 GMT

    We are taking Moeeen lightly as someone who took sanga twice has some tricks. Specially, his doosra is very effective. So, batsmen have to watch out for him. I still feel india should play ashwin alongwith jadeja. The duo can do good bit of batting as well. I doubt england will be defensive as they are stronger side on paper plus they have faced a strong SL side with both the close finishes. On the other hand india are taking a fresh guard and the team will get some shape for the future as the series progresses . In short, there will be a lot of positives from this series for India whatever be the defeat margin.

  • jingopack on July 5, 2014, 18:31 GMT

    a pitch which has something for the bowlers makes test compelling viewing.....flat wickets and 3or 4 centuries will b boring....its exciting to view test match cricket in Aus, SA and England ...bcoz of the nature of wickets....if its going to b flat tracks and batsmen piling up centuries......definitely boring

  • Udendra on July 5, 2014, 17:44 GMT

    If it's a hard wicket then a bowler like Ishant is preferred than Bhuvaneshvar.

  • kartcric on July 5, 2014, 16:41 GMT

    Ayush gautam,on what basis did you pick bkumar.First look at his test record..Then look at his performances in southafrica and newzealand,how horribleit was.He shouldn't have been picked in the squad first.

  • brokeneffingarm on July 5, 2014, 16:39 GMT

    Its beyond me as to why these matches are being played on belters such as Kennington & the rose bowl instead of more result oriented wickets such as headingley,edgebaston which assists seamers & provides better cricket.Trent bridge & the old trafford are India's only hope. Lords & the oval are sure shot draws given India's batting as well as bowling resources & we simply do not know much about the rose bowl to bet any money on it. Please do not turn this wicket into a dry one day batting paradise.

  • on July 5, 2014, 16:26 GMT

    Don't worry Mr.Bricks, England won't let you down, your efforts will be rewarded atleast by a minimum of 244 to a maximum of 267 in their 1st Innings. Keep up the good work.

  • Nampally on July 5, 2014, 16:01 GMT

    Cook will bat first if he wins the Toss but Dhoni is a habitual field first guy! A dry wkt. like at Trent Bridge may break up on the 5th day & start spinning on day 4. England as usual play with 4 seamers + Moen Ali as the solo off spinning all rounder. Will Dhoni's XI selection be still 3 bowlers + 1 all rounder? India will find themselves out of the Tests if Dhoni goes with this. He needs 5 bowlers. Only combo is left up to his judgement- 4 or 3 seamers + 1 or 2 spinners. I believe Rohit Sharma can bowl off spinners, if needed. So he can go with 4 Seamers + Jadeja+ Rohit . Dhoni's main task is to select openers who can stay at the crease + have patience & discipline to curb poking at balls outside the off stump. A good opening stand + 3 specialist bats + WK + all rounder, provides batting up to #7. Important thing is each of the 7 batsmen must do his job well. The same goes to the 5 bowlers. Focus on each ball & execute your task with a plan of action - This is critical to WIN.

  • on July 5, 2014, 15:48 GMT

    my team for india is 1)dhawan,2)gambhir3)pujara4)kholi5)Rahane 6)RG sharma7)dhoni8)binny9)ishant10)shami11)bhuvi

  • on July 5, 2014, 15:43 GMT

    Dry grass rolled in nicely & hard-pressed into the soil will hold the pitch together well. Pitch should stay good longer without breaking. Can assist only an exceptional spinner, even in the later stages. Should be good for batting. Watering at the edges is not likely to seep into the good length areas.

    However, if it rains heavily for a couple of days between now and the toss, even if the pitch is kept under covers, the first day, especially the first session, would be tough to bat. Indian seamers can get help.

  • on July 5, 2014, 14:49 GMT

    The best chance for India to win is if there is a tinge of green on the wicket and ball is seaming and swinging around... a flat deck takes out the less skilled indian bowlers out of the equation..... then it only needs a bad session of indian batting to lose the test

  • Greatest_Game on July 5, 2014, 14:35 GMT

    "'Don't want teams bowled out for 180' - Trent Bridge curator"

    THAT is definitely not going to happen. Quality bowling would be required to achieve that, and neither team has any! In the Sri Lanka matches the debutants were knocking up tons, and SL has a better attack than either of these teams. These guys could break the record of the "timeless test."

  • on July 5, 2014, 14:23 GMT

    by the look of things even the England team would want these type of wickets.....it is the only way for their batsmen to get back into form..... won't be surprised if there are some assistance for the spinners from day 2 itself......

  • on July 5, 2014, 13:58 GMT

    Ds obviously shows d pitch s gonna b extremely flat and bundles of runs r to b scored n d 5 match series resulting n dull draws

  • on July 5, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    First Test would be draw. Both Captains play "safe Cricket".

  • Mervo on July 5, 2014, 13:05 GMT

    A real wicket - with grass. that will be a change.

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  • Mervo on July 5, 2014, 13:05 GMT

    A real wicket - with grass. that will be a change.

  • on July 5, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    First Test would be draw. Both Captains play "safe Cricket".

  • on July 5, 2014, 13:58 GMT

    Ds obviously shows d pitch s gonna b extremely flat and bundles of runs r to b scored n d 5 match series resulting n dull draws

  • on July 5, 2014, 14:23 GMT

    by the look of things even the England team would want these type of wickets.....it is the only way for their batsmen to get back into form..... won't be surprised if there are some assistance for the spinners from day 2 itself......

  • Greatest_Game on July 5, 2014, 14:35 GMT

    "'Don't want teams bowled out for 180' - Trent Bridge curator"

    THAT is definitely not going to happen. Quality bowling would be required to achieve that, and neither team has any! In the Sri Lanka matches the debutants were knocking up tons, and SL has a better attack than either of these teams. These guys could break the record of the "timeless test."

  • on July 5, 2014, 14:49 GMT

    The best chance for India to win is if there is a tinge of green on the wicket and ball is seaming and swinging around... a flat deck takes out the less skilled indian bowlers out of the equation..... then it only needs a bad session of indian batting to lose the test

  • on July 5, 2014, 15:43 GMT

    Dry grass rolled in nicely & hard-pressed into the soil will hold the pitch together well. Pitch should stay good longer without breaking. Can assist only an exceptional spinner, even in the later stages. Should be good for batting. Watering at the edges is not likely to seep into the good length areas.

    However, if it rains heavily for a couple of days between now and the toss, even if the pitch is kept under covers, the first day, especially the first session, would be tough to bat. Indian seamers can get help.

  • on July 5, 2014, 15:48 GMT

    my team for india is 1)dhawan,2)gambhir3)pujara4)kholi5)Rahane 6)RG sharma7)dhoni8)binny9)ishant10)shami11)bhuvi

  • Nampally on July 5, 2014, 16:01 GMT

    Cook will bat first if he wins the Toss but Dhoni is a habitual field first guy! A dry wkt. like at Trent Bridge may break up on the 5th day & start spinning on day 4. England as usual play with 4 seamers + Moen Ali as the solo off spinning all rounder. Will Dhoni's XI selection be still 3 bowlers + 1 all rounder? India will find themselves out of the Tests if Dhoni goes with this. He needs 5 bowlers. Only combo is left up to his judgement- 4 or 3 seamers + 1 or 2 spinners. I believe Rohit Sharma can bowl off spinners, if needed. So he can go with 4 Seamers + Jadeja+ Rohit . Dhoni's main task is to select openers who can stay at the crease + have patience & discipline to curb poking at balls outside the off stump. A good opening stand + 3 specialist bats + WK + all rounder, provides batting up to #7. Important thing is each of the 7 batsmen must do his job well. The same goes to the 5 bowlers. Focus on each ball & execute your task with a plan of action - This is critical to WIN.

  • on July 5, 2014, 16:26 GMT

    Don't worry Mr.Bricks, England won't let you down, your efforts will be rewarded atleast by a minimum of 244 to a maximum of 267 in their 1st Innings. Keep up the good work.