The Ashes 2005 August 1, 2005

Australia look forward to slow Edgbaston pitch


Australia insist a slow Edgbaston wicket will put them on the fast track to victory in the second Ashes Test which starts on Thursday. Opener Matthew Hayden said Ricky Ponting's team, already 1-0 up in the five-Test series after the 239-run win at Lord's, are expecting a slow wicket in Birmingham which will nullify England's pace threat from Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff.

The torrential rain which followed the tornado which struck the Midlands city last week has left Edgbaston groundsman Steve Rouse hoping for hot weather to dry out the Test wicket. The Australians experienced similar batting conditions in the tour game at Worcester on Sunday after the virtual washout of the first day Saturday. But they still managed to reach 406 for nine thanks to half-centuries from Hayden, Justin Langer, Brad Haddin and Jason Gillespie.

"Flintoff and Harmison hit the deck hard and can bowl genuinely quick balls but I can only go on what the one-day wicket at Edgbaston was like and it was really slow," said Hayden. "I think we can plan on it being a reasonably slow wicket for the Test which plays into our hands. This game at Worcester will certainly help in terms of our preparations."

Hayden scored his 79 off only 97 balls but he stressed the importance of being patient in English conditions even though the natural instinct of the Australian side is to look to score quickly. "The conditions made it pretty hard work so we were just trying to bat time. The tempo of our innings in the Test match was pretty rapid so it was just good to spend time in the middle really," he said. "We will have a look at the wicket when we get to Birmingham but you have to adjust. You can only bat on the wicket you have been given but we are confident."