England v Australia, 3rd Test, Edgbaston July 23, 2009

Groundsman concerns over 'jelly' pitch

Cricinfo staff

Steve Rouse, Edgbaston's groundsman, is faced with a familiar pre-Ashes race against time, after heavy rain throughout a wet fortnight put back the preparations of the venue's Test pitch for the second time in four years.

"It's a nightmare," Rouse told BBC Sport. "Out of the last ten days, there have been two actual dry days, and the wicket is a bit like a jelly.

"I've got to dry that out between now and next Wednesday, because the wicket has to be ready roughly a day in advance, and the chances of getting that solid three or four inches down, there's no chance, not with the weather coming in."

Rouse was also left mopping up the puddles back in 2005, when a freakish tornado ripped through Birmingham in the build-up to the second Test, leaving three inches of rainfall in its wake.

On that occasion the pitch, which had been four days behind in its preparation time, ended up playing slow, but it nevertheless produced one of the most thrilling finishes in Test history, when England won by two runs on the fourth morning.

England have a good record in Birmingham, winning 22 of the 43 Tests staged and losing only eight, with 13 draws. Tickets are still available for the fourth day of the game on August 2, and spectators can also buy non-refundable tickets for the fifth day.