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

Dry pitch puts spin in focus for Australia

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Australians, according to the poet Dorothea Mackellar, love a sunburnt country. Quite how much they will appreciate a burnt-looking Old Trafford pitch over the next five days is another matter.

As the team warmed up in Manchester ahead of the third Investec Test, they cast a curious eye over the 22 yards in the middle, and saw largely what they expected: it was hard and dry with a few little cracks. But not everything they saw was exactly as they had anticipated.

"It's got some interesting patches on it but I think it will be a pretty good wicket," vice-captain Brad Haddin said. "It's just a bit different. It looks like it's been burnt, little bits of it."

The England captain Alastair Cook noted that Old Trafford was notorious for producing pitches that were not "aesthetically pleasing", though historically they have been responsible for some of Ashes cricket's most memorable moments. Michael Clarke is no longer a selector, relieving him of the duty - officially, anyway - of deciding whether it will be a two-spinner pitch for the Australians.

"It looked extremely dry and quite strange, to be honest," Clarke said. "It's got a handful of bare patches, which I'm unsure how they get there. The rest of the wicket has got a pretty good grass covering but it's dead grass. It's pretty hard. I think it's more going to be a pretty good batting wicket for the first couple of days.

"Fast bowlers will get reverse swing and the wicket will end up staying a bit lower as the game goes on and I think spin is going to play a part. I'm very interested to see what England do, if they change a winning formula. It's probably easier for us to make change because we haven't won the first two Test matches but for England it's going to be interesting because they've had success."

The teenage left-arm spinner Ashton Agar played the first two Tests for Australia but the more experienced offspinner Nathan Lyon has a good chance of winning a recall at Old Trafford, having shown some encouraging signs at training. Australia's other spin-bowling option is Clarke himself, although his ongoing back issue has limited his bowling in recent times.

"If required, I'll be able to bowl," Clarke said. "I haven't bowled much of late because of my back. I bowled a little bit in the nets at Hove, two overs [on Tuesday], and I'll bowl some more [on Wednesday] as well."

The Australians have expected dry pitches throughout the Ashes tour and given the way they struggled on dusty surfaces in India earlier this year, the spin of Swann and Monty Panesar always loomed as a threat if the conditions suited. Clarke said with more and more countries producing dry pitches, Australia would need to work on their game-plans against quality spin.

"It's smart by the other countries now, isn't it," Clarke said. "Our strength is our fast bowling so they are trying to take that as much as they can out of the equation. If I was a different country, I would be doing exactly the same. The reality is, since Shane Warne, we haven't brought through a number of great spinners or a number of great batters against spin.

"So opposition teams are probably seeing that as an area they can probably exploit against Australia. And we have to continue to get better. But I think the more you play in conditions that are conducive to spin it improves your batting. You learn how to find a way to have success and the same, you learn how to bowl in those conditions as well. So I'm not surprised."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY chitti_cricket on | July 31, 2013, 20:55 GMT

    Clarke is much in the mould of Steve Waugh in terms of leadership, Captaincy and knwoing the game etc. Tehnically I would rate him one of the best batsman aound the world batsmen. But the difference is Waugh had much better team at his disposal and won every one in sight. Clarke has mediocre team at his disposal and is unable to derive the same results.Clarke has to fire and lead from the front if this Australian side has to show any charecter, otherwise it would be very difficult for him and team.In recent past even with such good technique in his batting, he is showing signs of perishing to spin, becuase he is playing within crease to them. He was best equiped to play them and nullify their aggression when he uses his feet (like he did in India).But seems his bad back and not so great team around him making him loose his focus I think. He is another good gantelman to lead Australia and wish him all the best.

  • POSTED BY on | July 31, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    Michael Clarke is a great leader and has always been straight to the point but his injury concerns have limited his output and the team is suffering because of that (no blame on Clarke though). They need someone like him to bat big and show the rest how it's done like Cook did in India. Leadership is the area where Australia suffered the most in the past couple of years and we saw Clarke really come out in that home season against SA and Australia played very well as a result. Hope he lifts and hope that lifts the Aussies for the sake of cricket.

  • POSTED BY on | August 1, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    England will be batting at close of play, no matter who wins the toss

  • POSTED BY on | August 1, 2013, 8:15 GMT

    Markofcoloundra is unfortunately correct. Things have not gone as the Aussie selectors may have hoped and the risk of using an aging fringe player perhaps needs reconsidering. I would adjust the order to Hughes (looking sound against pace), Watson (good for 30 so if his partner gets 20 it's a 50 run partnership), Kawaja (give him an extended run), Smith (better than everyone thinks), Warner (capable of winning a match), Wade (has scored 2 hundreds, could fluke a third)), siddle, Harris, agar, Lyon. pray to win the toss and hope Warner and Clarke go off.

  • POSTED BY redneck on | August 1, 2013, 6:56 GMT

    @DustyBin the last 2 fast bowler made pitches for ashes tests were the WACA and headingly in 09 and they both resulted in victories for aus. england are now worse than india for doctoring wickets! even the indians draw the line before scorching grass off the pitch!!! i hope the gabba goes for its traditional pitch in the return ashes no more CEO 5 day wickets please!!!

  • POSTED BY cricket_ahan on | August 1, 2013, 6:23 GMT

    Not that I expect England to do so, but there is a serious case for England to play 2 spinners in this test. Monty is bowling well at the moment, performed well in the recent tour game, has a great record at this ground, and most of Australia's batting line-up are horrible at playing the turning ball. The pitch will wear from the first day so spin will play a key role. Being 2-0 up, I think England can afford to be a little adventurous. And if it comes off, it will be yet another headache for the Australian camp.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | August 1, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    Ever since the retirement of Warne, Australian spin bowling has been famous for one thing - not spinning the ball. There hasn't been a Aussie bowler since then able to match Swann for turn. Able to match Swann for anything for that matter. The response from the Aus camp was always "turning the ball is not the biggest priority." No wonder they are and things are as bad as they are in Australian cricket, yes England are much better but do they really have to make it worse for themselves? Sub-standards indeed.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | August 1, 2013, 5:59 GMT

    Ever since the retirement of Warne, Australian spin bowling has been famous for one thing - not spinning the ball. There hasn't been a Aussie bowler since then able to match Swann for turn. Able to match Swann for anything for that matter. The response from the Aus camp was always "turning the ball is not the biggest priority." No wonder they are and things are as bad as they are in Australian cricket, yes England are much better but do they really have to make it worse for themselves? Sub-standards indeed.

  • POSTED BY heathrf1974 on | August 1, 2013, 5:58 GMT

    If it's a real turner and breaks up heaps the Aussies are in will chance. Usually when wickets favour the bowling sides greatly the teams come closer together. However, if the wicket takes spin but holds together it should end just like Lords or worse for the Aussies.

  • POSTED BY left_arm_unorthodox on | August 1, 2013, 3:38 GMT

    And where in all this is Steve O'Keefe? Averages don't tell the whole story, but...31 with the bat, 26.5 with the ball, has dug NSW out of holes so ca play under pressure... got to wonder who he cheesed off at some point.

  • POSTED BY chitti_cricket on | July 31, 2013, 20:55 GMT

    Clarke is much in the mould of Steve Waugh in terms of leadership, Captaincy and knwoing the game etc. Tehnically I would rate him one of the best batsman aound the world batsmen. But the difference is Waugh had much better team at his disposal and won every one in sight. Clarke has mediocre team at his disposal and is unable to derive the same results.Clarke has to fire and lead from the front if this Australian side has to show any charecter, otherwise it would be very difficult for him and team.In recent past even with such good technique in his batting, he is showing signs of perishing to spin, becuase he is playing within crease to them. He was best equiped to play them and nullify their aggression when he uses his feet (like he did in India).But seems his bad back and not so great team around him making him loose his focus I think. He is another good gantelman to lead Australia and wish him all the best.

  • POSTED BY on | July 31, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    Michael Clarke is a great leader and has always been straight to the point but his injury concerns have limited his output and the team is suffering because of that (no blame on Clarke though). They need someone like him to bat big and show the rest how it's done like Cook did in India. Leadership is the area where Australia suffered the most in the past couple of years and we saw Clarke really come out in that home season against SA and Australia played very well as a result. Hope he lifts and hope that lifts the Aussies for the sake of cricket.

  • POSTED BY on | August 1, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    England will be batting at close of play, no matter who wins the toss

  • POSTED BY on | August 1, 2013, 8:15 GMT

    Markofcoloundra is unfortunately correct. Things have not gone as the Aussie selectors may have hoped and the risk of using an aging fringe player perhaps needs reconsidering. I would adjust the order to Hughes (looking sound against pace), Watson (good for 30 so if his partner gets 20 it's a 50 run partnership), Kawaja (give him an extended run), Smith (better than everyone thinks), Warner (capable of winning a match), Wade (has scored 2 hundreds, could fluke a third)), siddle, Harris, agar, Lyon. pray to win the toss and hope Warner and Clarke go off.

  • POSTED BY redneck on | August 1, 2013, 6:56 GMT

    @DustyBin the last 2 fast bowler made pitches for ashes tests were the WACA and headingly in 09 and they both resulted in victories for aus. england are now worse than india for doctoring wickets! even the indians draw the line before scorching grass off the pitch!!! i hope the gabba goes for its traditional pitch in the return ashes no more CEO 5 day wickets please!!!

  • POSTED BY cricket_ahan on | August 1, 2013, 6:23 GMT

    Not that I expect England to do so, but there is a serious case for England to play 2 spinners in this test. Monty is bowling well at the moment, performed well in the recent tour game, has a great record at this ground, and most of Australia's batting line-up are horrible at playing the turning ball. The pitch will wear from the first day so spin will play a key role. Being 2-0 up, I think England can afford to be a little adventurous. And if it comes off, it will be yet another headache for the Australian camp.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | August 1, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    Ever since the retirement of Warne, Australian spin bowling has been famous for one thing - not spinning the ball. There hasn't been a Aussie bowler since then able to match Swann for turn. Able to match Swann for anything for that matter. The response from the Aus camp was always "turning the ball is not the biggest priority." No wonder they are and things are as bad as they are in Australian cricket, yes England are much better but do they really have to make it worse for themselves? Sub-standards indeed.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | August 1, 2013, 5:59 GMT

    Ever since the retirement of Warne, Australian spin bowling has been famous for one thing - not spinning the ball. There hasn't been a Aussie bowler since then able to match Swann for turn. Able to match Swann for anything for that matter. The response from the Aus camp was always "turning the ball is not the biggest priority." No wonder they are and things are as bad as they are in Australian cricket, yes England are much better but do they really have to make it worse for themselves? Sub-standards indeed.

  • POSTED BY heathrf1974 on | August 1, 2013, 5:58 GMT

    If it's a real turner and breaks up heaps the Aussies are in will chance. Usually when wickets favour the bowling sides greatly the teams come closer together. However, if the wicket takes spin but holds together it should end just like Lords or worse for the Aussies.

  • POSTED BY left_arm_unorthodox on | August 1, 2013, 3:38 GMT

    And where in all this is Steve O'Keefe? Averages don't tell the whole story, but...31 with the bat, 26.5 with the ball, has dug NSW out of holes so ca play under pressure... got to wonder who he cheesed off at some point.

  • POSTED BY humdrum on | August 1, 2013, 2:02 GMT

    At the risk of having egg on my face, i think that the best chance for aussies lies on an under-prepared wicket, which cracks up pretty fast. The aussies simply dont have the grinding,long haul type batsmen so on spiteful turners, going for broke would be the only option.even if they lose, it would not be an embarrassment, like the second test. and by the way, why not look for inspiration to Allan Border, a gritty, dour captain,if ever there was one.In a lighter vein, well mannered aussies are, simply, not AUSSIE. Ask Steve Waugh.

  • POSTED BY markofcaloundra on | July 31, 2013, 23:50 GMT

    Well, still don't know our Aus XI.Hoping for improved batting,Must win toss, 400 plus and its game on/series still alive.Real worry is we don't know who our best XI is bar Clarke. Unprecedented. Structural problem is we have 5 openers in squad, no proven 3 or4,Reality is Smith and Khawaja should be batting 5 and 6 for their learning phase of test cricket.So Clarke should bat 4, but won't.Sadly Rogers will play, was always fringe player that's why never picked before, still is. I would go Hughes, Warner to open Watson at three. Cowan is gone, like Rogers a fringe journeyman( a la Inverarity. Sooner he's out of selection the better along with P Howard as HP mgr)). We have to pick and develop for future, so looking ahead to Ashes II at home our best line up now batting wise is:Warner, Hughes, Watson, Clarke, Khawaja,Smith, Haddin,Starc, Siddle,Harris, Lyon.If Haddin continues his slow decline Paine is best keeper, not Wade.Bird for Harris, if he cant' back up.Go Boof's boys.

  • POSTED BY thejesusofcool on | July 31, 2013, 22:18 GMT

    Difficult, but if I was Australia, I'd play 4 seamers & use Clarke,Smith & Warner as part-time spinners to relieve them.

    They've got to win & bowl England out twice to do it-can you see Lyon or Agar or both doing that in the first innings, regardless of if they win the toss. They've 4 times out of 4 knocked early wickets over & every time that's been the seamers,not the spinners.

    Yes, it will turn, but England won't play Panesar as well-they have no need to gamble;Australia do & they need to play the stronger hand vide their seamers.

  • POSTED BY Zippydidodah on | July 31, 2013, 22:17 GMT

    The first hour tomorrow is going to be key. A band of rain will have cleared, leaving cloud and high humidity, which should help swing. After lunch the cloud will burn off, and it should be easier for batting. There are showers predicted for the next few days, which give the bowlers a chance of a rest, and break the batsman's concentration.

  • POSTED BY H_Z_O on | July 31, 2013, 19:53 GMT

    Let's get a couple of things straight. 1) Old Trafford always turns 2) Lord's was very good for batting over the first 3 days, and was still decent for batting on day 4.

    That the Australians capitulated at Lord's in the first innings had nothing to do with the conditions and everything to do with their lack of discipline.

    Swann took a 5-fer so everyone assumes the pitch was turning ragged. Except 4 of his 5 were from poor batting. Rogers wasn't even out, but was too embarrassed, I'd imagine, to review, because of how it came about.

    Only Smith fell to a good spinner's delivery in the first innings, and even that was a brilliant piece of fielding by Bell and one that bounced a bit more than expected. If anything, producing spin-friendly pitches would suit Australia; the more favourable the pitch, the less skilled a spinner has to be to take wickets.

    The pitches have required batsmen to show discipline and get set, and Australia's haven't so far. If they had, they'd have scored runs.

  • POSTED BY milepost on | July 31, 2013, 14:28 GMT

    Fair enough I can see why people think it's overly optimistic to predict an Australian win but I don't go off the stats or what ifs. Cook and Clarke came into this series with stellar recent history? So what, where are they in the last 2 tests? We were 15 runs from leading the series, despite all the rubbish about last wicket partnerships. If England are so superior why did they allow all those last wicket runs? I think Warner in for Pattinson would be an aggressive, attacking statement and regardless of how bad you think Australia are, they play to win. I think two teams aiming to win is precisely the kind of test cricket we want to watch right? I fear if there is a contest England won't play to the game but they will aim to bury the series here - that's Flowers' way - and I don't blame them if that did happen, why give the opponent a sniff.

  • POSTED BY Big_Maxy_Walker on | July 31, 2013, 13:44 GMT

    Lyon is the best in the squad, so he has to play. Our real best spinner is Clarke but he cant bowl the heavy overs cause of his back. We don't have a second option as specialist bowler that his worth picking so three pace bowlers and Lyon with Smith backing up with his spin should suffice

  • POSTED BY Diddles1978 on | July 31, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    Get ready for a short test (weather pending) this wicket will be perfect for England's attack with bounce and spin and it will reward good batting. If the weather is humid the ball is going to swing about.

    Aussie batsmen lack of technique against the moving ball and discipline to grind out a innings will make it a comfortable victory for England.

  • POSTED BY on | July 31, 2013, 12:49 GMT

    Australia need to tour Bangladesh, SriLanka and UAE (Pakistan) to get some tough spin practice because they are struggling so much against spin that they almost are expecting defeat everytime! I expect Panesar and Swann to bowl together in tandem and the end result to be a thrashing and a demoralising defeat for Australia.

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | July 31, 2013, 12:28 GMT

    @milepost (July 31, 2013, 11:23 GMT) - I'll take a bet with you that Australia will lose, whether they win the toss or not. If they win the toss and bat the margin of defeat will be less than if they bat second - but either way - Australia are done. Here are my predictions; If Aus bat first they'll score 250 + or - 25. England batting second will score 400 + or - 25. Best case for Aus England will have a lead of 100, worst case England lead by 200. Result - Aus lose. If England bat first it will be carnage - much worse than at Lords, and that was bad enough.... And friend, have a look at these bowling figures from the 2010/11 Ashes; 11 wickets @ 19.54 AND 14 wickets @ 34.57. One of these sets of figures was for Peter Siddle and the other set is for "county trundler" Tim Bresnan. Guess which is which? But I do applaud your bravado!

  • POSTED BY willsrustynuts on | July 31, 2013, 12:10 GMT

    Weather (and Australias batsmen) permitting this pitch will be the perfect 5 day test surface. At various stages it will provide ideal batting/seaming/spinning conditions. No team will score more than 400 and turn this into a dull runfest but the skillful batsmen will score runs.

    The winners will be the best team after both innings completed.

    It is called TEST CRICKET and this will be the PERFECT PITCH.

  • POSTED BY CricketingStargazer on | July 31, 2013, 12:09 GMT

    @Milepost Noble, tub-thumping sentiments that ignore the fact that England's top six was worth 67, 54, 183 & 208 runs more than Australia's in the 4 innings so far in the series. That Trent Bridge was close was entirely down to runs from the #11 in both innings... not normally part of a side's strategy. Four of the top five run scorers in the series so far are English and the odd man out is the tail-ender, Agar. Six of the seven largest partnerships in the series are from England (the odd one out is the 10th wicket stand at Trent Bridge when England were a bowler short).

    Out of form Trott has more runs in the series than Clarke, Rogers, Haddin, Hughes, or Smith and Bresnan took 4-58 at Lords at 2.76 runs per over, bowling at a similar pace to the Australian quicks.

    I am certainly not ruling out an Australian win at Old Trafford, but someone has to make some runs in the top six and someone has to give Peter Siddle some support to make it possible.

  • POSTED BY on | July 31, 2013, 12:09 GMT

    Doesn't matter whether it is spin or pace. Aussies will be rolled over by England.

  • POSTED BY on | July 31, 2013, 12:08 GMT

    Dry, odd one low-bounce wicket...time to drop either Bairstow (Prior at 6) or Broad and take Monty. Australian spin weakness is a double weakness...no quality spinners nor batsmen who play quality spin well (except Clarke). We saw how this side crumbled in India 4-0, whilst England won 2-1. Whether or not Taylor plays for KP, that spot should be no 5, so that Bell can play at 4.

  • POSTED BY 64blip on | July 31, 2013, 12:02 GMT

    There were a lot of predictions based on the pitches for the last two tests, none of which were accurate, so let's wait and see. All we can say is "it's dry". Not a surprise with the weather we've been having. I think Panesar's call up was a tactical one to further unsettle the Aussies. Last time there were two spinner's picked in England was Cardiff and that didn't exactly turn out well. @ milepost: that's the attitude son! England will be sweating on that coin-toss, haha!

  • POSTED BY MartinC on | July 31, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    @milepost - the toss is always important but it will not be decisive at Old Trafford. This pitch is very unlikely to become a mine field on days 4 and 5 though it will naturally get more uneven and offer more spin.

    It will be at its best for batting day 2 and 3 (weather permitting - there is a forecast for some showers around over the weekend). So the side that wins the toss and bats needs to get something approaching 400+ to be put pressure on. Winning the toss, batting first and being bowled out for under 300 is not going to cut it.

    In India on pitches that were much dryer than Old Trafford will be England lost the toss in both Tests they won in that series. England bowled India out for less than 400 in the first innings of both matches.

  • POSTED BY SirViv1973 on | July 31, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    It would be a bad move if Aus decided to include 2 spinners. To do so they would either need to go in with only 2 main seamers one of which would be Harris who has had countless injury problems over the last few yrs and could break down down at anytime. The other option would be to drop a batsman, probably smith & move haddin to 6 & play Agar at 7, a move which would weaken the batting, something Aus can ill afford to do given their lack of runs in the series to date. Personally I would leave the top 7 as it is (providing Smith is fit, his leggies were more of a threat than Agar's at Lords anyway) bring Bird in to replace Pattinson & play Lyon as the sole spinner ahead of Agar. Lyon is by no means top drawer but he will give Eng batsman a bit more to think about than Agar, who has surely already had his big moment in this series.

  • POSTED BY on | July 31, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    I`m guessing Lyon will come into the team at the expense of Agar. They would be silly to take in both Lyon AND Agar when Smith can provide an adequate second spin option if needed. A big bearing on this game will come from whoever wins the toss and bats first.......if the Aussies bat first and set a decent first innings total, it may well be the real litmus test of how far England has come in their development.

  • POSTED BY DoubleKickDrum on | July 31, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    I wouldn't be so arrogant as to rule the Aussies out od this one. If they win the toss and play well, they could easily bring the series back to 2-1. Not all the England batters are in good form and one or two positive changes could give Australia a fighting chance....

    ....but with Swann and Panesar in tandem, you have to fancy England.

  • POSTED BY Charlie101 on | July 31, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    @milepost Bresnan has a decent record against Australia and had a good game at Lords with both bat and ball - he would walk into the Aussie team in both Test and ODI format. He backs up the strike bowlers and keeps it tight , taking a number of wickets which is the English way.

    If you replace Pattinson with Warner you will find that Siddle and Harris have to bowl many more overs which will probably mean that Harris may not last the series. Harris is a huge part of your attack and should be wrapped in cotton wool to ensure a contest.

  • POSTED BY milepost on | July 31, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    If Australia win the toss and bat they will win the test match. If anyone thinks they are in an abyss and will never win again, just remember the first test of this series and the fact that not so long ago they gave SA a tight series. India is a tough place to play and yes they got hammered. Warner in for Pattinson would be my change. Lyon has no case on form to oust Agar. Pick the team and give the young guys an extended run. I'm surprised Panasar is in the mix, he can barley get a game for his county let alone a wicket. Cook, Trott and KP are all short of runs too, Broad doesn't have many wickets either. Bresnan is a county trundler. Hammered at Lords but I suspect they have had time to think about their shot selection.

  • POSTED BY GeoffreysMother on | July 31, 2013, 11:06 GMT

    England have played two tests with a balanced attack of three fast bowlers and a spinner, and are likely to do the same at Old Trafford. They are hardly doctoring pitches to suit a team stacked full of spinners. Indeed the wickets have hardly suited the natural batting style of Trott, Pietersen, Bairstow or Prior, who all like the ball coming onto them.

    If you haven't got a decent spinner it is hardly up to the home team to prepare a wicket to suit the three or four good players you actually have got in order to make it 'fair'. Australia will have plenty of opportunity in the winter to prepare green tops and fast bouncy wickets but I'm not sure England's batsmen and bowlers will fare worse on them than Australia's on them. What England may do is change the nature of the fast bowling attack they play to suit the conditions (for example Finn rather than Bresnan on a fast wicket).

  • POSTED BY MartinC on | July 31, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    The Old Trafford wicket is the best cricket wicket in England. They always look a bit 'funny' with different coloured areas and cracks - but they are very hard and the cracks don't crumble.

    It will give pace and bounce, swing with the new ball and reverse with the old and offer turn and bounce for the spinners. The ball will come onto the bat though as well and batsmen can play shots and score runs.

    Its not a place to bowl medium pace and hope for some seam movement or a batsman with an iffy technique against the short ball or spin but its a great wicket if you are a high class pace bowler, spinner and batsmen.

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | July 31, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    Clarke's right, the Aussie fast bowling is their strength. But that's only because he's comparing it to their fragile batting, poor fielding and mediocre spin.

  • POSTED BY Charlie101 on | July 31, 2013, 10:45 GMT

    I suggest Michael Clark has a look at our weather patterns as we are in the middle of our first decent spell of hot weather in the last 4 years so of course the pitches are dry . It is not some cunning plan because we are scared of the Aussies fast bowlers as we have excellent fast bowlers ourselves but the fact that the sun has been shining which does not always happen in summer !!!

  • POSTED BY on | July 31, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Its a dry pitch means batting paradise, because of hardness in the pitch it will get reverse swing also. Australian have strength in fast bowling that;s why they are making spinning wickets because of them. Because of Swann and Monty Panesar they are making spinning wickets for their quality spinners .Offspinner Nathan Lyon will have to bowl very accurately in order to get many wickets.Agar will have to bowl according to field in order to get many wickets.

  • POSTED BY CricketingStargazer on | July 31, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    Incidentally, if Australia go into the match with Agar, Smith and Lyon (quite possibly he will come in for Pattinson), why would they need Michael Clarke too?

  • POSTED BY hayagriva on | July 31, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    Clarke's statement that since Shane Warne there has not been a spinner of high caliber is spot on. Nathan Lyon maybe the best they have now, but he is definitely not going to give any of the English batters sleepless nights.

    Additionally if Clarke has to Bat and Bowl, he will probably end up BROKEBACK by the end of this test... God bless Australia then for the remainder of the series.

  • POSTED BY on | July 31, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    I doubt this pitch will decide the result, but why can't curators just be given instructions to prepare a wicket that assists both bat and ball at different stages, can get a result in around 5 days and then everyone just butt out! I hate all this doctoring pitches business. Some ptiches spin, some bounce and others are flat, fair enough, thats part of the charm of our international game. But at the end of the day we still want to see which team has the best players not who has the craftiest curators!

  • POSTED BY hhillbumper on | July 31, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    have just seen the a teams score.60 odd for 7.It appears that anything with some pace in it will cause issues for them. It has been a strange summer weather wise over here so pitches are dryer than normal. Of course that could count as pitch doctoring in some peoples minds but you have to think whatever the pitches this Aus team would struggle.

  • POSTED BY DustyBin on | July 31, 2013, 9:35 GMT

    Clarke said "our strength is our fast bowling." Although actual performances show, it's not as strong as South Africa's. Or England's. Or New Zealand's. Or Pakistan's. So without the usual Pup media speak : "Australia has the 5th best fast bowling attack in world cricket, level with India, although clearly India have spinners who can move it off the straight too." Please prepare green tops for the return Ashes, Aussie curators-the rest of the world likes a laugh.

  • POSTED BY Chris_Howard on | July 31, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    Good to hear Clarke okaying doctored pitches. Test cricket had lost something in recent years with curators having to make generic pitches.

    And Australia was best place because it had the biggest variety of pitches.

    Everywhere should go back to making pitches with their own character. And then Test players will be truly tested.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | July 31, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    Clarke is a great, underrated spinner! It's a shame his back doesn't allow him to bowl more. I really can't see England playing two spinners together. There was a lot of talk before the series that England should simply just prepare raging turning pitches and play Swann and Panesar together for the whole series. Personally, I think that's a ridiculous idea and would play into England's weaknesses more than their strengths. Lets face it - the India series aside, England aren't exactly a renowned spin-dominating team. It's only a matter of time before the likes of Agar/Lyon/Smith/Clarke fire with the ball, never mind the bat!

  • POSTED BY Jaffa79 on | July 31, 2013, 9:28 GMT

    Old Trafford always looks a bit strange but it'll play ok with help for the quicks and spinners but runs for the batters. Old Trafford has always helped the spinners btw so any Aussies should have a look at OT's history before whinging. I remember Aus playing Eng at the SCG (which has also always spun) with Warne, McGill and Miller all playing, so the idea of England doctoring the pitch is nonsense. As anyone who has seen this series has seen, England would beat Australia on any surface.

  • POSTED BY CricketingStargazer on | July 31, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Australia have to win. England only need a draw. I think that England are using some bluff to try to get Australia to make a wrong pick.

    Incidentally, if the idea is to take Australia's fast bowlers out of the equation, who is it that England's main destroyers have been the seamers? Australia's attack have made starts, but failed to back them up when the shine went off the ball. England have taken wickets with their seamers at all stages of the innings and that is why they are 2-0 up.

  • POSTED BY CricketingStargazer on | July 31, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Australia have to win. England only need a draw. I think that England are using some bluff to try to get Australia to make a wrong pick.

    Incidentally, if the idea is to take Australia's fast bowlers out of the equation, who is it that England's main destroyers have been the seamers? Australia's attack have made starts, but failed to back them up when the shine went off the ball. England have taken wickets with their seamers at all stages of the innings and that is why they are 2-0 up.

  • POSTED BY Jaffa79 on | July 31, 2013, 9:28 GMT

    Old Trafford always looks a bit strange but it'll play ok with help for the quicks and spinners but runs for the batters. Old Trafford has always helped the spinners btw so any Aussies should have a look at OT's history before whinging. I remember Aus playing Eng at the SCG (which has also always spun) with Warne, McGill and Miller all playing, so the idea of England doctoring the pitch is nonsense. As anyone who has seen this series has seen, England would beat Australia on any surface.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | July 31, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    Clarke is a great, underrated spinner! It's a shame his back doesn't allow him to bowl more. I really can't see England playing two spinners together. There was a lot of talk before the series that England should simply just prepare raging turning pitches and play Swann and Panesar together for the whole series. Personally, I think that's a ridiculous idea and would play into England's weaknesses more than their strengths. Lets face it - the India series aside, England aren't exactly a renowned spin-dominating team. It's only a matter of time before the likes of Agar/Lyon/Smith/Clarke fire with the ball, never mind the bat!

  • POSTED BY Chris_Howard on | July 31, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    Good to hear Clarke okaying doctored pitches. Test cricket had lost something in recent years with curators having to make generic pitches.

    And Australia was best place because it had the biggest variety of pitches.

    Everywhere should go back to making pitches with their own character. And then Test players will be truly tested.

  • POSTED BY DustyBin on | July 31, 2013, 9:35 GMT

    Clarke said "our strength is our fast bowling." Although actual performances show, it's not as strong as South Africa's. Or England's. Or New Zealand's. Or Pakistan's. So without the usual Pup media speak : "Australia has the 5th best fast bowling attack in world cricket, level with India, although clearly India have spinners who can move it off the straight too." Please prepare green tops for the return Ashes, Aussie curators-the rest of the world likes a laugh.

  • POSTED BY hhillbumper on | July 31, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    have just seen the a teams score.60 odd for 7.It appears that anything with some pace in it will cause issues for them. It has been a strange summer weather wise over here so pitches are dryer than normal. Of course that could count as pitch doctoring in some peoples minds but you have to think whatever the pitches this Aus team would struggle.

  • POSTED BY on | July 31, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    I doubt this pitch will decide the result, but why can't curators just be given instructions to prepare a wicket that assists both bat and ball at different stages, can get a result in around 5 days and then everyone just butt out! I hate all this doctoring pitches business. Some ptiches spin, some bounce and others are flat, fair enough, thats part of the charm of our international game. But at the end of the day we still want to see which team has the best players not who has the craftiest curators!

  • POSTED BY hayagriva on | July 31, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    Clarke's statement that since Shane Warne there has not been a spinner of high caliber is spot on. Nathan Lyon maybe the best they have now, but he is definitely not going to give any of the English batters sleepless nights.

    Additionally if Clarke has to Bat and Bowl, he will probably end up BROKEBACK by the end of this test... God bless Australia then for the remainder of the series.

  • POSTED BY CricketingStargazer on | July 31, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    Incidentally, if Australia go into the match with Agar, Smith and Lyon (quite possibly he will come in for Pattinson), why would they need Michael Clarke too?

  • POSTED BY on | July 31, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Its a dry pitch means batting paradise, because of hardness in the pitch it will get reverse swing also. Australian have strength in fast bowling that;s why they are making spinning wickets because of them. Because of Swann and Monty Panesar they are making spinning wickets for their quality spinners .Offspinner Nathan Lyon will have to bowl very accurately in order to get many wickets.Agar will have to bowl according to field in order to get many wickets.