England's favourite venue
England are sitting pretty in the series with a 1-0 lead, and if pre-match talk is anything to go by, they'll maintain the advantage after the Edgbaston Test as well. Inclement weather not only threatens to play spoilsport over the next five days, it has also hampered pitch preparations, according to the curator. The "jelly" pitch is likely to play slow and low, and make wicket-taking tough work for bowlers.
Thus, a draw seems the most likely result, but the record at Edgbaston over the last couple of decades shows this is a venue where decisive results are the norm - since 1990, only three out of 17 Tests have been drawn. The first-class results this season, though, tell a different story, with six draws in seven first-class matches. There's a peculiar pattern to the Test results as well, which point to a draw - since 1993, every fifth Test at Edgbaston has been drawn, with South Africa playing out the last two stalemates. If that pattern is followed, Australia will go to Headingley still trailing by a game.
Edgbaston is also England's best home venue: in 43 games they've won 22 and lost eight, giving them a win-loss ratio of 2.75; The Oval is next with a ratio of 2.05. Conversely, it's one of the worst venues for Australia in England - only at The Oval do they have a poorer win-loss ratio.
|England since 1990||17||8||6||3|
|Australia since 1990||4||2||2||0|
England's past record at this ground - including their unbelievable two-run win against Australia in 2005 - will give them plenty of confidence, but the record of their batsmen here will not fill their hearts with too much cheer. Going into the Lord's Test, England's batsmen had scored 17 Test hundreds at that venue, with Kevin Pietersen scoring four, and Ian Bell and Andrew Strauss getting three each. Pietersen has an excellent record at Edgbaston too, but he isn't around unfortunately, and most of the others haven't had much to celebrate here.
The batsmen in the current England squad have only contributed two centuries and four half-centuries. Between them, Strauss and Bell have managed one half-century in 12 innings, with both batsmen averaging less than 25 at this ground. In four Tests, Strauss has scored 174 runs at an average of 21.75. He has got starts several times, with five scores of 20 or more, but hasn't managed more than 48.
The highest average at Edgbaston among England's current squad belongs to Andrew Flintoff, who has scored one century and two fifties in seven Tests. The last time he played Australia at this ground, he scored 68 and 73, and took 7 for 131.
|Andrew Flintoff||7||476||47.60||1/ 2|
|Alastair Cook||2||142||47.33||0/ 1|
|Paul Collingwood||2||161||40.25||1/ 0|
|Ian Bell||2||97||24.25||0/ 1|
|Andrew Strauss||4||174||21.75||0/ 0|
Most of the bowlers in the current England squad haven't enjoyed much success either. Flintoff has 22 wickets in seven Tests, of which 17 have come in his last three Tests here. The rest don't have much to shout about - James Anderson has seven wickets from three games while Steve Harmison has done even worse, with five wickets, each costing him more than 68.
|Bowler||Tests||Wickets||Average||Strike rate||5WI/ 10WM|
|Andrew Flintoff||7||22||29.63||54.6||0/ 0|
|Monty Panesar||2||5||39.20||84.0||0/ 0|
|James Anderson||3||7||45.85||70.1||0/ 0|
|Steve Harmison||3||5||68.20||96.6||0/ 0|
Overall, there isn't much to choose between the performances of spinners and fast bowlers at this ground since 2000. The fast bowlers have taken more wickets, but their average is only marginally better than that of the spinners.
|Wickets||Average||Strike rate||5WI/ 10WM|
Among the Australians in the reckoning for the Test, Ricky Ponting is the only one to play more than one match at Edgbaston. In three innings he averages 24; his first-innings 61 in 2005 was undone by a second-innings duck, as he was consumed by Flintoff's pace and swing in that unforgettable game. Brett Lee has played twice there too, taking seven wickets at a poor average of 43.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo