Glamorgan's pre-Ashes teething problems May 19, 2009

Swann plays down Cardiff pitch furore

  shares 27

England's senior spinner, Graeme Swann, has refused to be drawn into the hype surrounding the state of the wicket at Cardiff, the venue of the first Ashes Test in July, and believes that, far from producing a turning wicket to suit England's requirements, the first priority of the groundstaff at the Swalec Stadium will be to prepare a wicket that lasts for the full five days.

Just seven weeks prior to the Ashes opener, Cardiff's pitch was rated "poor" and its county, Glamorgan, docked two points for next season's Friends Provident Trophy following the spin-dominated contest against Essex earlier this month.

An ECB Pitch Panel comprising Mike Denness and Tony Pigott interviewed the umpires, captains and coaches, and confirmed that the wicket used for the Friends Provident match on May 12 "demonstrated excessive turn and should therefore be rated 'poor'." After bowling first in the match, Essex at one stage reduced Glamorgan to 57 for 7 before a partial recovery to 124 all out, with the Pakistani legspinner Danish Kaneria claiming 4 for 16 in ten overs.

"I'm sure they'll be desperate for the game to go five days down there, so I'm sure there'll be more preparation going into the Test wicket than any other," Swann told Cricinfo. "I wouldn't be surprised if it's not a spinner's wicket, but obviously I'm quite intrigued that spin could play a rather large part of the summer, because as a spin bowler myself I want to play as big a part as possible."

Tim Nielsen, the Australian coach, admitted he had been monitoring the pitch situation in Cardiff and predicts England will play to its strengths and prepare turning pitches this summer. He did not, however, believe the issues surrounding the troubled first Test strip amount to doctoring, and was confident the surface would improve by the time of the first Test.

"It will be interesting to see how it comes up," Nielsen told Cricinfo. "I think it's just a matter of trying to get a new wicket up - you wouldn't have thought they'd want to get themselves docked points in their competition.

"Whenever you go to someone else's country you wait and see what they prepare. Generally, England are renowned for making good, fair cricket wickets, but if they feel two spinners in the way to go for them, then I'm sure they'll have a long think about what kind of wickets they put up. That's fine. We expect hard and bouncy wickets when we go to Perth and Brisbane, so there is no difference."

Nonetheless, the ECB panel's verdict heaps extra pressure onto the Glamorgan administration, who were controversially awarded the opening Test of the Ashes after winning over the ECB with a staging-rights bid of £3 million, backed by the Welsh Assembly.

The refurbished venue has staged just one international match since securing the Ashes Test - England's final ODI against South Africa in September 2008, which was abandoned after three overs because of poor drainage.

Though the outfield has since been relaid, the pressure has scarcely let up on Glamorgan since then. The chief executive, Mike Fatkin, and the head groundsman, Len Smith, both left their posts in the aftermath of the South Africa match, leading the chairman, Paul Russell, to describe the county as "a pretty dysfunctional family."

England's players and pundits have long been unimpressed with the decision to hand Cardiff an Ashes Test ahead of more popular venues such as Old Trafford and Trent Bridge. Earlier this week, Shane Warne joined the chorus by telling Sky Sports that it was a "disgrace" to take the opening fixture away from the game's most traditional venue, Lord's.

Privately, however, the England think-tank will be delighted that the venue for the first Test is shaping up as a turning wicket. Since the retirement of Warne and Stuart MacGill, Australia have struggled to find a Test-class spinner, while England have hit upon two in Swann and Monty Panesar. On this evidence, both men can expect to be named in the first-Test squad.

Glamorgan's director of cricket, Matthew Maynard, indicated he would consider appealing the ECB's decision, and predicted few problems for the Test strip.

"Obviously we haven't played on the Test wicket at all but the ground looks an absolute picture, the pitch looks fantastic and I'm sure (groundsman) Keith (Exton) will get the Ashes strip just right," Maynard told the Guardian. "He's a very experienced groundsman and he knows exactly what he is doing."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • welshboygman on May 20, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    Quick note on the articel, I was at the ODI versus SAF last year. The game wasn't abandoned due to poor drainage, it was abandonded because it rain persistently for a number of hours through the afternoon and into the evening, subsequently followed by heavy showers. No ground would have managed a game in those conditions.

  • Sandsie on May 20, 2009, 4:11 GMT

    Bring Krejza into the squad! I can't see Hauritz making the most of a wicket with excessive turn.

  • Lizzyp on May 20, 2009, 2:12 GMT

    Wales a foreign country!!??!! Puhleeeze - and anyway, it's the England AND Wales Cricket Board. And believe me, that hurts the Welsh cricket fan - having to support England 'cos the W is always silent!!!! Also, for anyone who isn't aware of the geography, the last time I looked on GoogleEarth, there wasn't even a dotted line separating any of the countries in Britain. And we can speculate all we want ahead of the test, but instead of bitching and moaning about what might happen, why don't we wait and see what actually happens and level criticism at the ECB if it's justified. After all, this is a great mind game to get things rolling - Oz lost to Bangladesh on this ground in 2005.....

  • D.V.C. on May 19, 2009, 14:58 GMT

    The ECB should be careful what spin they put on the pitch conditions at Glamorgan. The 'there was too much spin' spin can only be a bad thing.

  • Rastus on May 19, 2009, 14:22 GMT

    I can't see why we are staging an English test match in a foreign country no matter how much they pay. We have enough test venues with the traditional six grounds so why stoop to this sort of mercenary level. It is a disgrace that Old Trafford and Trent Bridge do not have an ashes test. Cardiff would be OK for a Bangladesh or Zimbabwe test.

  • Wharfeseamer on May 19, 2009, 12:56 GMT

    Producing a good cricket wicket (GCW for ease of typing) is difficult. By the way, don't mistake a GCW for a 'good wicket' which has just become a euphemism for a batsman friendly pitch. A GCW should provide an even contest between bat and ball, a pitch where good batsmen can score runs and good bowlers take wickets. All pitches should start with consistent pace and bounce. One day pitches should play the same for both teams for the duration of the match. They should have a little something in it for the bowlers. 4 and 5 day pitches should provide some help for the seam bowlers on the first morning or so, then flatten out for a day or two and then start to deteriorate and take spin and later on the 4th and into the 5th day bouce may become uneven That's why producing GCW's is difficult. A GCW should not turn significantly on days 1 or 2, not really until later on day 3. Should Cardiff have a test match? Why not?

  • Copernicus on May 19, 2009, 12:40 GMT

    A pitch that doesn't consist of tarmac from the carpark laid on the field? A wicket where bowlers might get some assistance for their toil? A ground where the first innings score will be less than 500? Where batsmen with good techniques will be rewarded? Heaven forbid! The umpires were right to report this anti-batsman sin of preparing a turning wicket - bland high scoring draws are obviously what Test cricket needs.

  • JulesUK on May 19, 2009, 12:36 GMT

    Oh, and by the way, when the first Test starts, can we (England cricket fans)all please shut up about Cardiff getting the game and get behind the team.

    It's not Glamorgan's fault that the England AND WALES Cricket board has the criteria it does for awarding test matches to venues, they applied and got chosen.

    If everyone continues carping on about how the game should be at Trent Bridge or Old Trafford, that's bound to set a negative tone which can only negatively impact on the England players and give a boost to the Aussies!

  • JulesUK on May 19, 2009, 12:27 GMT

    Please doctor the pitches - Test cricket needs saving from the 700 plays 700 bore draws!

    By the way, just becuase this wicket turned a fair bit(and what's wrong with that?) that doesn't mean the test strip in Cardiff will behave identically.

  • eoinsmith001 on May 19, 2009, 11:24 GMT

    It's easy. If bowlers have the upper hand, the game ends more quickly. If batsmen have the upper hand, everyone shares in 5 days of gate and tv revenue. By maximising their income at the selection process (by accepting the 3 million bid from Glamorgan), the ECB are now terrified of losing money on a pitch that might not last 5 days for the opening Test. Apparently, spinning pitches can now be openly called "poor". Priorities: money, money, money, money, money, money. Depressing. Maybe they'll de-select Swann for the first Test with an eye to playing out a 5-day run-fest.

  • welshboygman on May 20, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    Quick note on the articel, I was at the ODI versus SAF last year. The game wasn't abandoned due to poor drainage, it was abandonded because it rain persistently for a number of hours through the afternoon and into the evening, subsequently followed by heavy showers. No ground would have managed a game in those conditions.

  • Sandsie on May 20, 2009, 4:11 GMT

    Bring Krejza into the squad! I can't see Hauritz making the most of a wicket with excessive turn.

  • Lizzyp on May 20, 2009, 2:12 GMT

    Wales a foreign country!!??!! Puhleeeze - and anyway, it's the England AND Wales Cricket Board. And believe me, that hurts the Welsh cricket fan - having to support England 'cos the W is always silent!!!! Also, for anyone who isn't aware of the geography, the last time I looked on GoogleEarth, there wasn't even a dotted line separating any of the countries in Britain. And we can speculate all we want ahead of the test, but instead of bitching and moaning about what might happen, why don't we wait and see what actually happens and level criticism at the ECB if it's justified. After all, this is a great mind game to get things rolling - Oz lost to Bangladesh on this ground in 2005.....

  • D.V.C. on May 19, 2009, 14:58 GMT

    The ECB should be careful what spin they put on the pitch conditions at Glamorgan. The 'there was too much spin' spin can only be a bad thing.

  • Rastus on May 19, 2009, 14:22 GMT

    I can't see why we are staging an English test match in a foreign country no matter how much they pay. We have enough test venues with the traditional six grounds so why stoop to this sort of mercenary level. It is a disgrace that Old Trafford and Trent Bridge do not have an ashes test. Cardiff would be OK for a Bangladesh or Zimbabwe test.

  • Wharfeseamer on May 19, 2009, 12:56 GMT

    Producing a good cricket wicket (GCW for ease of typing) is difficult. By the way, don't mistake a GCW for a 'good wicket' which has just become a euphemism for a batsman friendly pitch. A GCW should provide an even contest between bat and ball, a pitch where good batsmen can score runs and good bowlers take wickets. All pitches should start with consistent pace and bounce. One day pitches should play the same for both teams for the duration of the match. They should have a little something in it for the bowlers. 4 and 5 day pitches should provide some help for the seam bowlers on the first morning or so, then flatten out for a day or two and then start to deteriorate and take spin and later on the 4th and into the 5th day bouce may become uneven That's why producing GCW's is difficult. A GCW should not turn significantly on days 1 or 2, not really until later on day 3. Should Cardiff have a test match? Why not?

  • Copernicus on May 19, 2009, 12:40 GMT

    A pitch that doesn't consist of tarmac from the carpark laid on the field? A wicket where bowlers might get some assistance for their toil? A ground where the first innings score will be less than 500? Where batsmen with good techniques will be rewarded? Heaven forbid! The umpires were right to report this anti-batsman sin of preparing a turning wicket - bland high scoring draws are obviously what Test cricket needs.

  • JulesUK on May 19, 2009, 12:36 GMT

    Oh, and by the way, when the first Test starts, can we (England cricket fans)all please shut up about Cardiff getting the game and get behind the team.

    It's not Glamorgan's fault that the England AND WALES Cricket board has the criteria it does for awarding test matches to venues, they applied and got chosen.

    If everyone continues carping on about how the game should be at Trent Bridge or Old Trafford, that's bound to set a negative tone which can only negatively impact on the England players and give a boost to the Aussies!

  • JulesUK on May 19, 2009, 12:27 GMT

    Please doctor the pitches - Test cricket needs saving from the 700 plays 700 bore draws!

    By the way, just becuase this wicket turned a fair bit(and what's wrong with that?) that doesn't mean the test strip in Cardiff will behave identically.

  • eoinsmith001 on May 19, 2009, 11:24 GMT

    It's easy. If bowlers have the upper hand, the game ends more quickly. If batsmen have the upper hand, everyone shares in 5 days of gate and tv revenue. By maximising their income at the selection process (by accepting the 3 million bid from Glamorgan), the ECB are now terrified of losing money on a pitch that might not last 5 days for the opening Test. Apparently, spinning pitches can now be openly called "poor". Priorities: money, money, money, money, money, money. Depressing. Maybe they'll de-select Swann for the first Test with an eye to playing out a 5-day run-fest.

  • Aizoon on May 19, 2009, 9:32 GMT

    "While its a bit surprising coming from the English" - no, dsig3, it's coming from the Welsh ;-)

    Although Cardiff is the nearest to my city that they've played a Test in my lifetime, I think it's a bizarre and absurd decision. Just because the Welsh Assembly can lash out English taxpayers' money is no reason to take away the First Test from Lord's and to deny Old Trafford and Trent Bridge a game.

    We saw with Stanford just what the EWCB will do for money; this is yet another example of money destroying cricket, as it has already done with football.

  • topeleven on May 19, 2009, 9:26 GMT

    Why not prepare a turning wicket for a test match? Calling a pitch poor which turns so much is not right. Perth is a bouncy track which can injure a batsman to any extent. Indian wickets are slow and low and some time produces dead rubbers. Rather than worrying about the state of the pitch, the ECB should consult the coach and captain about the nature of wickets and the plans they have in thier mind in tackling the aussies.

  • old_iron on May 19, 2009, 8:18 GMT

    Glamorgan got the test because they bought it with tax payers money. FACT

    BTW, the pitch isn't doctored. The square at Glamorgan is higher than a newly laid, well draining outfield, hence the moisture is sucked from it leaving a dry turner when damp welsh weather would normally predict different.

  • Javed_Munir_Dar on May 19, 2009, 7:05 GMT

    I fully endose the PPRK comments, he is absolutely right, i really appreciate his/her knowledge on cricket

  • NumberXI on May 19, 2009, 6:47 GMT

    This is positively bizarre. Attitudes like "demonstrated excessive turn and should therefore be rated 'poor'" show why spinners are the top three wicket takers in test cricket. Instead of trying to improve the ability of their batsmen to play spin, the ECB seem to insist that any wicket that helps spinners is bad. This is, of course, not the first time they have done so, but one would have thought that, after seeing the success of Warne, Muralitharan and Kumble, or even the promise of Swann, the ECB would begin to see the value of spin. But then it is hardly surprising for them to do so, because this is the same ECB that pretends Duncan Fletcher is a messiah, and whose erudition includes the view that spinners take wickets every two or three tests!! What a head-buried-in-sand view.

  • dsig3 on May 19, 2009, 6:38 GMT

    Clearly this is a doctored pitch. While its a bit surprising coming from the English I am not really worried from an Australian standpoint. When England start to think to hard about cricket they inevitably fall on their face. Heres my prediction. England overbake the Cardiff pitch and it turns into a potato field. Andrew MacDonald takes 10 wickets in the match bowling 115km/h filth at a crater somewhere near a good length. Australia win the match while Flintoff gets his foot stuck in a crack and decides to have surgery. ECB gets fined and the media once again turn on the England cricket team. How am I doing?

  • Javed_Munir_Dar on May 19, 2009, 6:17 GMT

    It is not the right criteria that if a pitch is helping to spinners it means that pitch is poor or underprepared, there are dozens of instances when pitch never gave any assistance to spinner yet they got wickets, also i do not agree with the views that England generally prepared fair pitches infact they always prepared pitches which suits them as is the case with other country, i do support the decession of Test cricket at Cardiff but it is also a fact that the ground is too small, it should be according to the international standards, hopefully ECB and County officials will take care of that next time

  • Satya_Cricket on May 19, 2009, 5:32 GMT

    I fully support ECB's decision to host an Ashes test in Cardiff, after overlooking Old Trafford & Headingley.

  • Subra on May 19, 2009, 2:48 GMT

    Firstly why is a bowler friendly pitched labelled poor - why dead as a dodo pitches where any Tom, Dick or Harry can score a century labelled a good one.

    Secondly what is the harm in ECB trying to get more money - after all the revenue goes to improving cricket in the country - and everybody benefits.

    Finally what is wrong with spreading International cricket to various parts of the country so that the locals get to see Internationals in action. The sooner we kill the concept that Test cricket is an exclusive thing - the better chances for the survival and popularity of Test cricket.

    Siva from Singapore

  • Woody111 on May 19, 2009, 2:19 GMT

    These people at the ECB can't seem to get much right at the moment. Beginning with a pointless two test series against WI and then commencing the Ashes in Wales. I support different venues being used but you don't see South Africa vs Aus being held in Darwin or Cairns: you see Bangladesh vs Aus. If the ECB are so intent on using Cardiff then perhaps the 2nd or 3rd test would have been more appropriate. On the other hand it may turn out to be the best mistake for Eng as it gives a much higher chance of a 1 nil start to the series for them.

  • redneck on May 19, 2009, 0:54 GMT

    i would have thought the ecb would be over the moon that they have a ashes venue with "excessive turn". i wouldnt be suprised if they secretly sent the cardiff groundsmen a fruit basket for their troubles getting a pitch to not only take spin but to have one that excessivly turns in mid may is quite an achievemnet!

  • Lazys0d1990 on May 19, 2009, 0:18 GMT

    So the ECB want's another dead track. If they want to get rid of bowlers and kill the game why doesn't someone just say so. If all the pitches are gonna be roads the scoreline will read 0-0.

  • Ruben_Sen on May 18, 2009, 23:41 GMT

    I agree with both comments. The ECB has become more about trying to make money than about promoting the game. The Ashes is the jewel in the crown of test cricket and the ECB has a reponsablity to give it the best facilities avaliable to show case what is great about test cricket. Get real ECB!!!

  • Hiteshdevilliers on May 18, 2009, 21:37 GMT

    Just like most other sports these days, cricket has fallen victim to monetary greed as well. First it was the IPL, now the English summer. The ECB has let the power of money get the best of them, in the process ruining a series, which has such a history to it. A ground not known to anyone has got the nod ahead of historical Ashes venues such as Lord's to host this match. The integrity of cricket has really fallen, and if the match doesn't live up to it's hype, the ECB will deserve all the criticism that will follow. I'm not saying it is a sin to experiment with new grounds. It is high time that cricket spread to new parts of the country, which this match is showing. But just like the Riverside inauguration in 2005, the Cardiff ground should have been awarded a WI vs Eng match instead of an Ashes opening contest. Sure the ECB wouldn't have gotten the same revenue, but at least the integrity of the series would have been kept in touch.

  • wgtnpom on May 18, 2009, 21:35 GMT

    It's only in the last few years that the opening Test of a series has been at Lord's. It always used to stage the second Test (at least in 4- and 5-match series). However starting an Ashes series at Lord's would surely be the best thing - starting at Cardiff is a bit like having the FA Cup final at somewhere like the JJB Stadium in Wigan - not the same.

  • billatbasing on May 18, 2009, 17:37 GMT

    I would rather watch a closely fought contest on a difficult wicket than the high-scoring bore draws of last winter in the West Indies where batsmen without decent techniues prospered and all bowlers were reduced to the supporting cast. Nobody wants to see innings of 650 vs 650-8 this would just persuade people that micky mouse contests like T20 were better than Test cricket.

  • Clickinfo on May 18, 2009, 16:46 GMT

    The ECB's MP-like greed in allocating a Test to a ground so small and unworthy is coming back to bite them.

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  • Clickinfo on May 18, 2009, 16:46 GMT

    The ECB's MP-like greed in allocating a Test to a ground so small and unworthy is coming back to bite them.

  • billatbasing on May 18, 2009, 17:37 GMT

    I would rather watch a closely fought contest on a difficult wicket than the high-scoring bore draws of last winter in the West Indies where batsmen without decent techniues prospered and all bowlers were reduced to the supporting cast. Nobody wants to see innings of 650 vs 650-8 this would just persuade people that micky mouse contests like T20 were better than Test cricket.

  • wgtnpom on May 18, 2009, 21:35 GMT

    It's only in the last few years that the opening Test of a series has been at Lord's. It always used to stage the second Test (at least in 4- and 5-match series). However starting an Ashes series at Lord's would surely be the best thing - starting at Cardiff is a bit like having the FA Cup final at somewhere like the JJB Stadium in Wigan - not the same.

  • Hiteshdevilliers on May 18, 2009, 21:37 GMT

    Just like most other sports these days, cricket has fallen victim to monetary greed as well. First it was the IPL, now the English summer. The ECB has let the power of money get the best of them, in the process ruining a series, which has such a history to it. A ground not known to anyone has got the nod ahead of historical Ashes venues such as Lord's to host this match. The integrity of cricket has really fallen, and if the match doesn't live up to it's hype, the ECB will deserve all the criticism that will follow. I'm not saying it is a sin to experiment with new grounds. It is high time that cricket spread to new parts of the country, which this match is showing. But just like the Riverside inauguration in 2005, the Cardiff ground should have been awarded a WI vs Eng match instead of an Ashes opening contest. Sure the ECB wouldn't have gotten the same revenue, but at least the integrity of the series would have been kept in touch.

  • Ruben_Sen on May 18, 2009, 23:41 GMT

    I agree with both comments. The ECB has become more about trying to make money than about promoting the game. The Ashes is the jewel in the crown of test cricket and the ECB has a reponsablity to give it the best facilities avaliable to show case what is great about test cricket. Get real ECB!!!

  • Lazys0d1990 on May 19, 2009, 0:18 GMT

    So the ECB want's another dead track. If they want to get rid of bowlers and kill the game why doesn't someone just say so. If all the pitches are gonna be roads the scoreline will read 0-0.

  • redneck on May 19, 2009, 0:54 GMT

    i would have thought the ecb would be over the moon that they have a ashes venue with "excessive turn". i wouldnt be suprised if they secretly sent the cardiff groundsmen a fruit basket for their troubles getting a pitch to not only take spin but to have one that excessivly turns in mid may is quite an achievemnet!

  • Woody111 on May 19, 2009, 2:19 GMT

    These people at the ECB can't seem to get much right at the moment. Beginning with a pointless two test series against WI and then commencing the Ashes in Wales. I support different venues being used but you don't see South Africa vs Aus being held in Darwin or Cairns: you see Bangladesh vs Aus. If the ECB are so intent on using Cardiff then perhaps the 2nd or 3rd test would have been more appropriate. On the other hand it may turn out to be the best mistake for Eng as it gives a much higher chance of a 1 nil start to the series for them.

  • Subra on May 19, 2009, 2:48 GMT

    Firstly why is a bowler friendly pitched labelled poor - why dead as a dodo pitches where any Tom, Dick or Harry can score a century labelled a good one.

    Secondly what is the harm in ECB trying to get more money - after all the revenue goes to improving cricket in the country - and everybody benefits.

    Finally what is wrong with spreading International cricket to various parts of the country so that the locals get to see Internationals in action. The sooner we kill the concept that Test cricket is an exclusive thing - the better chances for the survival and popularity of Test cricket.

    Siva from Singapore

  • Satya_Cricket on May 19, 2009, 5:32 GMT

    I fully support ECB's decision to host an Ashes test in Cardiff, after overlooking Old Trafford & Headingley.