England in India 2012-13 December 2, 2012

Used Test pitch will have 'pace and bounce'


England will be confronted by another used wicket when the third Test against India starts on Wednesday, according to the Eden Gardens curator, Prabir Mukherjee.

India's tactic of utilising a worn track backfired in the second Test in Mumbai. Despite winning the toss, India lost by 10 wickets with the England spin-bowling duo of Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann sharing 19 wickets and out-performing the three-pronged Indian spin attack.

While three surfaces have been prepared on the Eden Gardens square, Mukherjee stated that the Test pitch would be the same as that used for the match between Bengal and Gujarat. That match ended on November 20 - barely two weeks before the start of the Test - and foot marks from the bowlers' run-ups are clearly visible. But only 25 wickets fell over the course of the four-day game as the match ended in a draw and Mukherjee insisted the pitch would reward good cricket rather than providing too much assistance to bowlers of a certain type.

"Cricket should be played on pitches of true pace and true bounce," Mukherjee said. "Games should be decided by the quality of the player, not the pitch. It should be the way they bowl that matters. It is not about the pitch.

"This pitch was used for the Ranji Trophy game against Gujarat. They were 18 for 5 in their second innings but they fought back and the match was drawn. Swann and Panesar will enjoy this pitch. They bowl line and length. The pitch will have good pace and bounce."

Reports had suggested that Mukherjee was in dispute with India captain, MS Dhoni over the latter's demand for "a square turner" in Mukherjee's words. But Dhoni will be encouraged by news that a worn pitch will be used as it should assist his spinners and exploit what India believe is England's weakness against high-quality spin bowling. It also suggests that winning the toss will, once again, offer a substantial advantage.

Mukherjee laughed off the suggestion that he was unwell as reported by the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) - indeed, he looked in remarkably good health for a man reported to be 83 - and reacted with an ambivalent shrug to the suggestion that the BCCI or CAB were attempting to gag him. "I am at the fag end of my life," he said. "They are threatening to suspend me if I talk about the pitch. That is the treatment I get after more than two decades of service at CAB."

England have a modest record at Eden Gardens, where they have not played a Test since 1993. They have only won one Test there - in 1977 - and, of the other eight they have contested at the ground, have lost three of them. Only two England batsmen, Colin Cowdrey in 1964 and Tony Grieg in 1977, have scored Test centuries on the ground and no England fast bowler has taken a five-wicket haul on the ground in a Test since Bob Willis in 1977. No seamer has taken a five-wicket haul in a Test on the ground since Javagal Srinath in 1999.

Steven Finn did not bowl in training on Sunday. The England management insisted Finn, who was in action more recently than his seam bowling colleagues in the Test squad due to his participation in the England Performance Programme match, was being rested in line with his workloads plans and was not suffering from an injury. He will bowl in training on Monday before a decision is taken over his involvement in the third Test.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Susantha on December 5, 2012, 17:24 GMT

    I feel Prabir Mukherjee as a great man. Great move by you to benifit Indian Cricket in long run. I'm proud of you. If you provide this sort of pitch, India never lose 8 test matches in a row, again. "Games should be decided by the quality of the player, not the pitch. It should be the way they bowl that matters. It is not about the pitch." Well said. I take my hat off you sir.

  • Dummy4 on December 5, 2012, 4:22 GMT

    Yes in India Pitches should be flat & especially low bounce to give due advantage to Front foot batsmen & exploit batsmen who prefer backfoot.........................This kind of home advantage every team gets & Indians too should look for this advantage ...............................This poses a new challenge for batsmen that is lbw & bold so these low bounce pitches are good for cricket

  • Harmon on December 4, 2012, 18:11 GMT

    @ Full-Blooded-Wallop: Then type what you wanted to say and post it. I am sick of reading the comments of some confused Ind fans here who have no idea what damage they are doing to their country's image by praising someone who is insulting their very own captain who won us 2 World Cups. Some of these Ind fans need to be given electric shocks so they wake up and see what the reality is. As many ppl here would know, I am a man of very intense opinions but I've never been angrier in my life on a cricketing topic. Not even Sydney 08 comes close to it. I really wish I could go to Kolkata, hunt this curator and give him a piece of my mind. Each time I read this article I become super-enraged. I wish I could shout through words, I wish I could record an audio post here to show how much anguished I was to hear this man saying Dhoni's request was immoral when he himself was talking to the media violating BCCI's orders. We need more posters like you here. It takes only 5-6 mins. Do it.

  • Nitin on December 4, 2012, 15:38 GMT

    @harmony111: You echoed all what I was about to write...thanks for a really really sensible comment!

  • Naresh on December 4, 2012, 8:37 GMT

    India will probably go in with same team - this means no place for Rahane and Dinda. Knowing Dhoni and coach. (Yuvi and Shewag could replace Bhajji's spin overs) Rahane like Tiwari awaits his turn - while warming the bench. Its quite obvious that India have too many non-performers in the team. Dhoni fears the unknown - Ganguly has called for Dinda to come in place of Yadav. The coach needs to address the players and single out players who are not stepping up. We lost the last test - due to 2nd innings collapse. The openers NEED TO GIVE INDIA A SOLID START.

  • John on December 4, 2012, 7:55 GMT

    @DaisonGarvasis on (December 04 2012, 05:54 AM GMT), if such pitches are prepared in those countries then it is the decision of the individual groundsman to do so. The boards do not request them and the captains certainly do not. They stick to administration and playing respectively and leave the pitch preparation up to the groundsman. Noone in England, Australia or elsewhere is complaining about the fact that Indian pitches spin more. What we don;t agree with is the Indian captain and various other players asking, may demanding, pitches be over-prepared to advantage the home team when, if they were good enough, any pitch in India should advantage India already because it will be significantly different to what England would play on at home. You're not especially welcome for making me explain something that any sensible cricket fan should already be able to work out for themselves.

  • Muthu on December 4, 2012, 5:58 GMT

    India lost Mumbai test to England even before it began...i tell you why selecting "Harbajan Singh" (who has done nothing to deserve his place in Indian squad) in the team was Big Mistake. What it actually did was it shattered the confidence of Ashwin who has been doing well in a past year or so. I don't see any valid reasons for Harbajan being in the Indian squad in any format. Give him a break and let him go to county and play as much as he can to get into any sort of form.

    As far as Third test is concern, it's going to be typical kolkata wicket with a lot of assistance for slower-throw-air spinners (Like Sawnn and Ohja) and dead flat mat wicket for fast blowers. So once again it's matter of adapting to the wicket quickly.

  • Daison on December 4, 2012, 5:54 GMT

    For all those who say "Home teams should not make pitches to suit their game" - They can all hold their peace until the day SA, AUS, NZ and ENG do NOT prepare pitches with extra bounce, too much lateral movement just so it suites their game. If all of you did not chose to speak when such pitches are prepared in those countries, do not speak when a turning track is prepared in India. Hope its clear. You are welcome.

  • dilan on December 4, 2012, 5:37 GMT

    Come on England.. India will lose the whole series for sure...

  • Harmon on December 4, 2012, 5:19 GMT

    To all those Ind fans who are saluting this curator saying he is standing up to Dhoni and BCCI: This man is an employee of CAB, a constituent of BCCI. So he is standing up not to an enemy but to the hand that has fed him (now fed up of him). He is using some weird logic to go against his own. First of all, Dhoni has not asked for a dust bowl, he has asked for a wicket which spins - Dhoni lost the 2nd test but knew it was his spinner who failed him and the pitch was good. This curator gives the example of a DRAWN match to say this wicket was good !!! Is a drawn match more preferred than a decisive result? And you ppl are saying this man is to be saluted? Are you ppl aware of something called INDIA? What about INDIA? Pitches don't score runs - yes, but batsmen score runs ON Pitches. No wait, not batsmen but its their bats that score the runs, no wait again, its their hands that move the bat, no wait, its their mind -- IT IS THE WHOLE COMBO THAT SCORE RUNS. --- contd.

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