England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford July 31, 2013

A stronghold for England and Monty Panesar

England have won six of their last seven Tests at this ground, while Panesar has 25 wickets from three Tests

The last time England lost a Test at Old Trafford was in 2001, against Pakistan; since then, they've won six out of seven, and were only a wicket away from winning the one that got away. Australia haven't lost here since 1981, winning three out of five since then, but they were lucky to get away in 2005, when they were nine down for 371 chasing 423 for victory. Australia have no recent memory of Test defeat at this ground, but given the gulf between the two teams in this series, it'll require plenty of work from them to keep it that way after the next five days.

For England, Old Trafford is, results-wise, their best home venue over the last decade and more: among venues where they've played five or more Tests since 2001, their win-loss ratio of 6 at Old Trafford is the highest. They've been utterly dominant here during this period, averaging more than 40 with the bat and less than 28 with the ball. They've scored 13 hundreds and conceded only six to opposition batsmen, and their bowlers have a strike rate of 50 balls per wicket, compared to 74.2 for the opposition bowlers.

Australia will need to draw inspiration from Ricky Ponting's heroic 156 in the fourth innings in 2005, the fifth-highest score by an Australian batsman in the fourth innings of a Test. Despite that effort, Australia almost lost the match, which further illustrates the level at which England have been playing at this ground.

England at each home venue in Tests since 2001
Venue Tests Won/ Lost W/L ratio Bat ave Bowl ave
Old Trafford 8 6/ 1 6.00 40.39 27.85
Lord's 26 14/ 4 3.50 43.10 30.72
Edgbaston 11 6/ 2 3.00 38.15 32.31
Trent Bridge 12 8/ 3 2.67 32.42 27.27
The Oval 12 6/ 3 2.00 40.31 40.40
Headingley 10 5/ 4 1.25 36.11 35.15

In the days before the Test, much of the talk has been around the nature of the pitch, which is expected to offer more help to spinners. England have already suitably tweaked their squad to prepare for such an eventuality, bringing in Monty Panesar as the spinner to support Graeme Swann, while there's even been talk of Australia playing both Nathan Lyon and Ashton Agar.

The table below shows the performance of pace and spin here in the last eight Tests, and there's little to choose between the two. Fast bowlers have taken more wickets, but there's negligible difference in the averages. During this period, though, spinners have averaged better at two other England venues - Trent Bridge (81 wickets at 31.41) and Edgbaston (89 wickets at 31.59). England's spinners, though, have a better record here than the fast bowlers, averaging less than 25 runs per wicket.

Pace and spin in Old Trafford in the last 8 Tests here
  Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Pace 186 32.13 56.9 7/ 1
Spin 73 33.75 68.1 6/ 1

The reason why the spin stats for England are so good here is because of Panesar: in three Tests at Old Trafford, Panesar has taken 25 wickets at 16.72, and a strike rate of 34 balls per wicket. In each of those three Tests, he has taken five-fors in the second innings - 5 for 72 against Pakistan in 2006, 6 for 137 against West Indies the following year, and 6 for 37 against New Zealand in 2008, which was also the last time he bowled in a Test at Old Trafford. Overall, Panesar's haul of 25 Test wickets is the third-highest by any bowler at this ground: only Alec Bedser (51 in seven Tests) and Jim Laker (27 in five, including the famous 10 for 53 and match haul of 19 for 90 in 1956).

James Anderson has only ten wickets from three Tests, though at a pretty good average, while Swann took six in the only Test he has played here, against Bangladesh in 2010.

England bowlers at Old Trafford
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/10WM
Monty Panesar 3 25 16.72 34.1 3/ 1
James Anderson 3 10 27.10 3.92 0/ 0
Graeme Swann 1 6 18.33 29.3 1/ 0
Stuart Broad 1 0 - - 0/ 0

Among the current England batsmen, Ian Bell leads the way with two hundreds and three fifties in eight Test innings, and an average of 81. Alastair Cook has enjoyed success here too, with centuries in each of his first two Tests at Old Trafford, but Kevin Pietersen has an aggregate of 268 in eight innings, with a highest of 68 despite going past 20 six times.

Among the current Australian lot, Michael Clarke is the only one to have played a Test here - he scored 7 and 39 in his two innings in 2005.

England's batsmen in Tests at Old Trafford (more than one Test)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Ian Bell 5 486 81.00 2/ 3
Alastair Cook 4 369 61.50 2/ 1
Kevin Pietersen 5 268 33.50 0/ 2
Matt Prior 2 133 44.33 0/ 1

The captain winning the toss here has chosen to bat in the last 14 Tests. The last time a team fielded first was England in the 1993 Ashes, and it didn't work out well for them: though they dismissed Australia for 289 in the first innings, they lost the Test by 179 runs. However, batting first hasn't always worked in the last 14 Tests either - the teams winning the toss have a 5-4 win-loss during this period.

For a venue which is regarded as one of the better ones for spin bowling in England, the fourth-innings scores at Old Trafford have been remarkably high - the average runs per wicket in the fourth innings in the last eight Tests is 44.47, the highest among all innings. In the last four fourth innings, England scored 231 for 3 to beat West Indies, Australia finished at 371 for 9 to draw in 2005, West Indies scored 394 when chasing a target of 455, and England scored 294 for 4 to beat New Zealand.

With the pitch likely to be drier this time, though, fouth-innings batting could be a lot more difficult in the third Ashes Test.

Ave runs per wkt in each innings at Old Trafford since 2001
1st inngs 2nd inngs 3rd inngs 4th inngs
39.01 30.12 24.64 44.47

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nicholas on August 1, 2013, 8:31 GMT

    @Vinay Kolhatkar (post on July 31, 2013, 12:02 GMT): Despite usually being a Broad-basher, I have to admit that Broad's bowling in the second game was nothing short of spectacular! He was very unlucky, and on another day could easily have been amongst the wickets instead of the others. Very easy to look at the scorecard alone and assume he had a bad game - but if you actually watched/listened to the game you'd have seen/heard that he had the Aus. batsmen (including Clarke) in pieces in many spells, with many of the runs against him coming off edges or ugly lofted strokes. Meanwhile, what exactly have Panesar and Tremlett done of note?

  • Dummy4 on August 1, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    Let's play our number 1 spinner: Monty

  • Kausthub on August 1, 2013, 5:58 GMT

    Concerning this statement' Australia will need to draw inspiration from Ricky Ponting's heroic 156 in the fourth innings in 2005, the fifth-highest score by an Australian batsman in the fourth innings of a Test.'

    If you look at the stats page, post 1999, the ton 10 of the 100s on that list are all made by Aussies... with even Clarke featuring on that list. So Australia have been a great team even in the not so recent past... If they can find memory inspiring, they need not look anywhere else.

  • Peter on July 31, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    No chance are England playing Monty, He's not in good form and England won't play two spinners anywhere outside the subcontinent. They have just bought him in to confuse Australia and allow Finn and Onions to go away and play some county games.

  • john on July 31, 2013, 13:44 GMT

    While Panesar has done superbly at OT on his outings here, with so many left-handers in the Australian team it is unlikely one could justify playing a left-arm spinner who will take the ball towards the left-hander (though might be a reason for Australia to stick with Agar who could move it away from the right-hand dominated English line-up). Plus Root can add a second off-spinner to the England attack.

    The big question with this test is whether Australia can post a competitive first innings score. They desperately need a first innings lead to put some pressure on England, else the game will go away from them.

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2013, 12:42 GMT

    England's eyes should be on the weather forecast for this one. Despite the myth of OT's pace and bounce being perpetuated by Sky commentators it's had no pace in it for the best part of a decade (and that hasn't been affected by the rotation I can assure you). It tennis balls when banged in which kids people it's fast but pitch it up and it barely reaches the batsman. It will swing if it's humid and there's cloud cover but if not then 2 spinners is definitely the way to go.

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2013, 12:02 GMT

    This Australian side does not play spin well (except Clarke of course). What has Broad done so far to justify his place as a bowler ahead of Monty or Tremlett? Nothing. Either Broad fetches the drinks or Prior bats at 6 to let Monty play, that's how it should be.

  • Tom on July 31, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    Last time England played Swann and Monty together at home, iirc, was Cardiff 2009, which despite Monty's heroics with the bat was otherwise a disaster on a pitch expected to spin well. Doing so again here would be a gamble, especially since Old Trafford's spinning reputation might no longer hold so strong since the pitch rotation - and the recent spell of rain might have affected the pitch too. On the other hand, England could probably afford to sacrifice a batsman and play with five bowlers - *not* a course I'd usually recommend but two fasties isn't going to cut it. Still, though, this team is, probably rightfully, safety-first, and I'd be surprised to see Monty in the XI.

  • Owen on July 31, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    Am I the only one here who thinks the stats are a little iffy here? Is 8 tests really enough to draw any meaningful conclusion? e.g. if England lose this next test then the win/loss ratio gets cut in half and is all of a sudden second on the list.

    Though like the other comments, I would love to see Swann and Panesar in tandem as well - yes England have the options of KP and Root as part timers, but watching two specialists operate together outside the subcontinent is always a rare sight.