England v Australia, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 5th day August 25, 2013

Clarke rules out pitch doctoring in Australia

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Australia's captain Michael Clarke has insisted that England will not be greeted by doctored pitches when they arrive down under for the return Ashes series. This is despite his side's dire results over nine Test matches in India and England in 2013, where surfaces have without exception been made to order for the home team.

England's coach Andy Flower had argued, at times politely and others forcefully, for the dry, slow strips played on across the five Tests that reaped a 3-0 margin for the hosts. The England captain Alastair Cook said such tactics were all part of home advantage in a contemporary Test series.

In a dry summer the chosen pitches had forced a strong Australian pace attack to work hard for their wickets while also aiding the superior spin of Graeme Swann. Yet Clarke, having seen his team subjected to all manner of humiliations and now dropped to No. 5 on the world rankings for the first time since August 2011, did not submit to the view that Australia would need to be equally precise at home.

"I think we've had enough success in Australia how the wickets are, so I don't see any reason to doctor them," Clarke said. "I want to see good even wickets, a good contest between bat and ball. It's how I think you play your best cricket, that's how the people watching get to see some great cricket, so I'm confident if the wickets are how Australian wickets are and we play our best cricket, we'll have success.

"In my time as an Australian player I don't think I've ever seen an Australian wicket change too much. Generally you know what you're going to get, so I don't see any reason why they will change that. You want a good, even battle between bat and ball and spin will definitely play a part as the wickets deteriorate in Australia, because it's nice and hot. To me that's how you see some great cricket.

"At the end of the day that's a part of international cricket; you tour around the world and play in different conditions. You need to find a way to adapt. Unfortunately for us now in India and in the UK we haven't been able to have success so we've got to keep working hard."

As he drank in the realisation of his first Ashes series win as captain, Cook acknowledged that his team had sought every possible advantage, and would not begrudge Australia doing likewise. "Of course home advantage gives you that choice to try as much as you can to push things in your favour," he said. "That's why its Test cricket, that's why it's home advantage and one of the beauties of Test cricket is you have to test yourself in different conditions.

"So when we get to Australia it'll be similar I imagine to 2010-11, those pitches which they will try to have suit them as well, but we've got some good memories of what happened there last time, and a lot of the similar players are there as well."

The captains' contrasting attitudes to the overseeing of home pitch preparation is in line with a wider theme. Australia prefer to play a more romantic, aggressive brand of the game, even if they have repeatedly tripped over in the pursuit of their ideal. But England are unapologetic about thinking negatively at times, reasoning that to push an opponent further from victory is to pull themselves closer to it.

"Australia should be credited a little bit for the way they've set the game up," Cook said of a dramatic final day at The Oval. "But at the beginning of the day we knew we had to make it as difficult as we could for Australia to push home what they were trying to do. We knew they were going to push for the win, and the harder we made it the easier it would've been for us to win, and that was proven."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Cpt.Meanster on | August 27, 2013, 4:17 GMT

    I personally feel home teams can prepare whatever pitches they want. HOWEVER, that practice shouldn't border along unfair lines. For example, Australian and South African pitches traditionally favour pace and bounce, that's down mainly due to the soil type found in those countries. But if they doctor those pitches by leaving even more grass, then that's UNFAIR. Especially against Asian teams who are not used to such conditions, no matter how good their players may be. Then what follows is injustice because the series could be decided well after 2 tests. That's not what the so called 'lovers' of test cricket want to see. On the flip side, the Indian sub-continent is always hot where the pitches are slow, low turners usually and mostly flat. That's again due to the heat and humidity of the region followed by different soil types. If groundsmen doctored those pitches and make them dust bowls or bunsens, that's unfair. This is why the ICC should appoint pitch experts for every series.

  • POSTED BY Thegimp on | August 27, 2013, 3:34 GMT

    I've been saying all along that pitch doctoring has to stop. There should never be dry turning wickets in England due to the weather, only green tops due to too much rain. India the same, they can turn out good batting decks for 20/20 and 50/50 but turn to dust bowls for tests. It reeks of insecurity. England had a chance to smash Aus who are at a very low stage but instead have handed them the moral high ground with the addition of putting doubts into their minds about having to face the Aust attack on fast bouncy wickets in Aust.

    The final 3-0 result was predictable however Australia have managed to take more from the series, Eng top order are looking over their collective shoulders and that's not the place you want to be as a dominant side.

    I think it was a negative ploy and we are yet to see if it backfires. Finally England have a team that can take them to the top and yet the administrators are still doing everything they can to hinder them. English conservatism yet again!

  • POSTED BY Moppa on | August 28, 2013, 23:23 GMT

    Wow, @redneck, you have a great memory. The last time Sri Lanka played in Brisbane was in 1990. Further complicating your argument, Australia racked up 450 declared against WI on a 'greentop' in 2009 and 400 odd against NZ in 2011. And bowled out England for 260 on the first day of the series in 2010. But, otherwise, your theory is rock solid.

  • POSTED BY Dashgar on | August 28, 2013, 12:42 GMT

    Australia never doctor pitches. This was proven when India toured and we put them on 3 of the 4 slowest pitches in the country. Every now and again there will be a pitch that looks pretty green but equally there are pitches that border on bald. Everyone knows the WACA will be fast, the Gabba will bounce and seam, Melbourne will be slower and Sydney and Adelaide are the most likely to turn. This will be true again, the toss will be important but not match defining and most matches will get a result on day five. Lets hope for no rain delays and a great showing by both sides. Australia 3-2

  • POSTED BY on | August 28, 2013, 8:09 GMT

    Pitch Doctoring isnt that Curator Prepares Pitches which are Green top Dust bowls or A Road, Its that Areas of the pitch are prepared for Bowlers of the Home side, Take Indian Pitches, Lyon couldnt get the Turn Ashwine could Due to different style and knowledge where Pitch was going to offer spin, Same as Swann verse Agar, different styles Ager had no chance, Lyon on the other hand bowled tight and got same spin as Swann, his Series Avg support this

  • POSTED BY on | August 28, 2013, 7:02 GMT

    If any team wins by changing their pitches thats not called a win.

  • POSTED BY on | August 28, 2013, 4:36 GMT

    I think anyone will struggle to find any consistent or demonstrable pitch doctoring in Australia for any home series in recent memory. The pitches simply are what they are. We talk about it happening in other nations and I think perhaps people just assume it happens in Australia too, but it doesn't. Captains or coaches just don't expect it because home ground advantage comes in familiarity and consistency. Sure, Brisbane can have more or less grass, Perth has lost some of it's former pace and Melbourne is the least predictable of all, but for the most part everyone has always known what they are going to get and Aussie captains have found that to be enough. The difference in this last series is that England have unapologetically pushed for pitches to be prepared in certain ways. That simply can't be denied. It's not the weather or anything else, it's a clear request from the team. It's not denied or hidden, it's plain and obvious and admitted. Maybe there is nothing wrong with that.

  • POSTED BY redneck on | August 28, 2013, 1:47 GMT

    clarkes towing the company line here. its clear as daylight brisbane have 2 different test strips. the traditional green top they roll out for NZ, WI and sri lanka and the ceo 5 days of batsmans paradise they roll out for south africa and england and probably india if they ever get that fixture again! perth is also guilty of this to a lesser degree. these are this country's most lively wickets, they sure show these characteristics in the shield still so why does it change when england or south africa rock up?

  • POSTED BY milepost on | August 27, 2013, 15:28 GMT

    Australian don't and have never doctored pitches and I'm proud of that. @Oliver Jones, fair and balanced comments from an English supporter who obviously has an understanding of the game. Congrats to you and as an Aussie supporter I make no excuses, 3-0 is the bottom line, you guys deserve it for performing in the key moments. Its easier to discuss with fans who aren't sore winners which there seem to be a few of. It's a bad look. There were some pretty tight contests and as someone pointed out some strange anomalies, like Lyon out bowling Swann in the matches they played, Australia having more centurions, higher scores, better bowling averages and tellingly, having to stay on in the dark longer. We won't doctor any pitches despite Flower and Cook admitting they have in this series. Agree with @oneeyedaussie

  • POSTED BY on | August 27, 2013, 12:25 GMT

    I'd like to be a fly on the wall for the response of an Australian curator when the captain asks him to prepare a pitch in a way that enhances the prospects of the home side. It doesn't happen. The captain would be reminded, in no doubt colourful vernacular, of the limits of his prestige and influence. Preparing the pitch is the curator's sole responsibility and long may that continue.

  • POSTED BY Cpt.Meanster on | August 27, 2013, 4:17 GMT

    I personally feel home teams can prepare whatever pitches they want. HOWEVER, that practice shouldn't border along unfair lines. For example, Australian and South African pitches traditionally favour pace and bounce, that's down mainly due to the soil type found in those countries. But if they doctor those pitches by leaving even more grass, then that's UNFAIR. Especially against Asian teams who are not used to such conditions, no matter how good their players may be. Then what follows is injustice because the series could be decided well after 2 tests. That's not what the so called 'lovers' of test cricket want to see. On the flip side, the Indian sub-continent is always hot where the pitches are slow, low turners usually and mostly flat. That's again due to the heat and humidity of the region followed by different soil types. If groundsmen doctored those pitches and make them dust bowls or bunsens, that's unfair. This is why the ICC should appoint pitch experts for every series.

  • POSTED BY Thegimp on | August 27, 2013, 3:34 GMT

    I've been saying all along that pitch doctoring has to stop. There should never be dry turning wickets in England due to the weather, only green tops due to too much rain. India the same, they can turn out good batting decks for 20/20 and 50/50 but turn to dust bowls for tests. It reeks of insecurity. England had a chance to smash Aus who are at a very low stage but instead have handed them the moral high ground with the addition of putting doubts into their minds about having to face the Aust attack on fast bouncy wickets in Aust.

    The final 3-0 result was predictable however Australia have managed to take more from the series, Eng top order are looking over their collective shoulders and that's not the place you want to be as a dominant side.

    I think it was a negative ploy and we are yet to see if it backfires. Finally England have a team that can take them to the top and yet the administrators are still doing everything they can to hinder them. English conservatism yet again!

  • POSTED BY Moppa on | August 28, 2013, 23:23 GMT

    Wow, @redneck, you have a great memory. The last time Sri Lanka played in Brisbane was in 1990. Further complicating your argument, Australia racked up 450 declared against WI on a 'greentop' in 2009 and 400 odd against NZ in 2011. And bowled out England for 260 on the first day of the series in 2010. But, otherwise, your theory is rock solid.

  • POSTED BY Dashgar on | August 28, 2013, 12:42 GMT

    Australia never doctor pitches. This was proven when India toured and we put them on 3 of the 4 slowest pitches in the country. Every now and again there will be a pitch that looks pretty green but equally there are pitches that border on bald. Everyone knows the WACA will be fast, the Gabba will bounce and seam, Melbourne will be slower and Sydney and Adelaide are the most likely to turn. This will be true again, the toss will be important but not match defining and most matches will get a result on day five. Lets hope for no rain delays and a great showing by both sides. Australia 3-2

  • POSTED BY on | August 28, 2013, 8:09 GMT

    Pitch Doctoring isnt that Curator Prepares Pitches which are Green top Dust bowls or A Road, Its that Areas of the pitch are prepared for Bowlers of the Home side, Take Indian Pitches, Lyon couldnt get the Turn Ashwine could Due to different style and knowledge where Pitch was going to offer spin, Same as Swann verse Agar, different styles Ager had no chance, Lyon on the other hand bowled tight and got same spin as Swann, his Series Avg support this

  • POSTED BY on | August 28, 2013, 7:02 GMT

    If any team wins by changing their pitches thats not called a win.

  • POSTED BY on | August 28, 2013, 4:36 GMT

    I think anyone will struggle to find any consistent or demonstrable pitch doctoring in Australia for any home series in recent memory. The pitches simply are what they are. We talk about it happening in other nations and I think perhaps people just assume it happens in Australia too, but it doesn't. Captains or coaches just don't expect it because home ground advantage comes in familiarity and consistency. Sure, Brisbane can have more or less grass, Perth has lost some of it's former pace and Melbourne is the least predictable of all, but for the most part everyone has always known what they are going to get and Aussie captains have found that to be enough. The difference in this last series is that England have unapologetically pushed for pitches to be prepared in certain ways. That simply can't be denied. It's not the weather or anything else, it's a clear request from the team. It's not denied or hidden, it's plain and obvious and admitted. Maybe there is nothing wrong with that.

  • POSTED BY redneck on | August 28, 2013, 1:47 GMT

    clarkes towing the company line here. its clear as daylight brisbane have 2 different test strips. the traditional green top they roll out for NZ, WI and sri lanka and the ceo 5 days of batsmans paradise they roll out for south africa and england and probably india if they ever get that fixture again! perth is also guilty of this to a lesser degree. these are this country's most lively wickets, they sure show these characteristics in the shield still so why does it change when england or south africa rock up?

  • POSTED BY milepost on | August 27, 2013, 15:28 GMT

    Australian don't and have never doctored pitches and I'm proud of that. @Oliver Jones, fair and balanced comments from an English supporter who obviously has an understanding of the game. Congrats to you and as an Aussie supporter I make no excuses, 3-0 is the bottom line, you guys deserve it for performing in the key moments. Its easier to discuss with fans who aren't sore winners which there seem to be a few of. It's a bad look. There were some pretty tight contests and as someone pointed out some strange anomalies, like Lyon out bowling Swann in the matches they played, Australia having more centurions, higher scores, better bowling averages and tellingly, having to stay on in the dark longer. We won't doctor any pitches despite Flower and Cook admitting they have in this series. Agree with @oneeyedaussie

  • POSTED BY on | August 27, 2013, 12:25 GMT

    I'd like to be a fly on the wall for the response of an Australian curator when the captain asks him to prepare a pitch in a way that enhances the prospects of the home side. It doesn't happen. The captain would be reminded, in no doubt colourful vernacular, of the limits of his prestige and influence. Preparing the pitch is the curator's sole responsibility and long may that continue.

  • POSTED BY Showbags88 on | August 27, 2013, 12:07 GMT

    I think Australia is suited to fast bouncy pitches so that is what we should produce. England's attack is suited more toward swing/seam movement and their "tall hit the deck" bowlers like Tremlett, Finn and Broad are very hit and miss. Tremlett is not the same bowler post injury, Finn is not Test ready as yet and Broad is very inconsistent. If Australia can take out Swann's effectiveness and the ball doesn't swing for Anderson then I give us a real chance this Summer. We slowly started to gain more consistency with the bat throughout the series and if we can carry that form through to the home series then we will give England a real run for their money. Then again if Swann gets injured and they don't pick Monty in the touring party maybe we should produce dry turners as Kerrigan is a woeful spinner. Lyon and Agar (and about 4 other Aussie spinners) are a mile ahead of him.

  • POSTED BY on | August 27, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    I'd like to be a fly on the wall for the response of an Australian curator when the captain asks him to prepare a pitch in a way that enhances the prospects of the home side. It doesn't happen. The captain would be reminded, in no doubt colourful vernacular, of the limits of his prestige and influence. Preparing the pitch is the curator's sole responsibility and long may that continue.

  • POSTED BY on | August 27, 2013, 9:55 GMT

    England have a better bowling attack, better captain, and better batting lineup. I don't think England will care what pitches Australia will prepare. It was 3-1 last time in 10/11, don't see any reason why the same sort of result couldn't happen again this time. This England side isn't afraid of a 5th ranked Australian team. Not in the slightest.

  • POSTED BY wibblewibble on | August 27, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    We've had dry wickets in the UK this summer because it hasn't rained much, and the drainage has been massively improved at most grounds in the last 10 years. If you think the wickets have been doctored, compare them to 2009, or 2005. This Oval pitch was almost identical to 2009, unsurprisingly since the same guy prepared it.

    Not sure what Australia could do to doctor the pitches to aid just them, our quicks will like a green top just as much as Australia, and we've just seen who has the weakest batting line up. I expect the Gabba to move a little for the first couple of days, then go flat, Adelaide will turn from day 2, Perth will be bouncy and it will reverse quickly at the MCG.

  • POSTED BY Samdanh on | August 27, 2013, 9:26 GMT

    Aus have seldom doctored. Even if the pitches in these 5 Tests remain true to their traditional characteristics, the matches would be closely contested and interesting only if Aus improve their batting. It is their poor batting that made them lose 3 Tests and improved batting that made them come close to victory but could not get through due to rain on 4th and 5th days in OT and rain on 4th day in Oval. In the absence of disciplined batting the scoreline may improve, but the Ashes may not be regained. Having said that, their bowling which was exemplary throughout in the concluded series, needs to remain so in the upcoming series too. But for the howler in the first Test and the rain affected 4th evening and 5th day in OT, and the rain washed out 4th day in Oval, it could have been 3-2 in favour of Aus. So they will require lady luck to be on their side too, to regain the Ashes

  • POSTED BY on | August 27, 2013, 7:08 GMT

    Its about time Test Cricket under goes a Major change, How Games are scheduled, Take away Home Pitch advantages, and promote other Nations at Getting them to play at Test Level, Its the 21st Century not 19th, Its about time Neutral Test are Played all Around the World, Draw who plays who at what Arena, minimum Tests per Year and Promote Other Nations to play!!! USA v India at Lords, that has to be the main Objective for next 5 Years

  • POSTED BY heathrf1974 on | August 27, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    I thought the pitches have been doctored somewhat the last 1-2 years into batting tracks with little help to bowlers (namely against SA). I want them to go back to their traditional way. If you keep doctoring pitches then players don't learn how to play on different types. Sydney should be spin, Gabba green top, Adelaide batting track and then takes spin, WACA for quicks and MCG balanced.

  • POSTED BY heathrf1974 on | August 27, 2013, 6:54 GMT

    I thought the pitches have been doctored somewhat the last 1-2 years into batting tracks with little help to bowlers (namely against SA). I want them to go back to their traditional way. If you keep doctoring pitches then players don't learn how to play on different types. Sydney should be spin, Gabba green top, Adelaide batting track and then takes spin, WACA for quicks and MCG balanced.

  • POSTED BY Chris_P on | August 27, 2013, 5:31 GMT

    England prepared pitches that suited their bowling, the pitches lasted 5 days, there was no doctoring. How simple is that to understand? Australian pitches, from my experience have always been the same, the SCG used to spin like a top but not so much now, the Gabba has always been seamer friendly, the WACA is returning back to its glory days. Melbourne has been the same forever, where Adelaide has always started out a cracker then helped spinners as the game progressed. Only Hobart has gone from road to green seamer friendly pitch back to road (for the Shield final), but none have been specifically prepared for bowlers. if the quick bowlers put in, they will earn rewards.

  • POSTED BY Windymatt on | August 27, 2013, 2:55 GMT

    samincolumbia, don't put words in peoples mouth when they are not there. Clarke did not say that at all? It defies belief how some people can read an article and interpret in an entirely farcical way? You obviously werent watching the same series as everyone else or are just trolling. I don't understand the whole problem with pitch doctoring, to be a good Cricket team you have to perform REGARDLESS of what the pitches are doing. You should be good enough to adapt to the conditions.

  • POSTED BY Mindmeld on | August 27, 2013, 1:56 GMT

    The pitch doctoring has been quite extreme in these two series, and I've honestly never seen it this bad before. Naturally Indian and English fans are outraged - not by the doctoring, but by the mentioning of it, no matter how blatant it is. Australia has never gone in for this kind of thing, at least not to this extent we have seen here. So I doubt it will change now. Besides, as far as I am aware there is no mechanism for a captain to make any such requests in Australia. In India at least, that is not the case, such is the set up there. Not sure about how these "dry turners" came about in England, and who has been pulling the strings. But whoever did it, they sure didn't do it in any half measures.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | August 27, 2013, 1:51 GMT

    Those who were looking forward to a repeat of the 2005 contest a couple of years ago, and this includes all the neutrals, were smacking their lips at the prospect of Australia and England going at it on typical english pitches in English conditions. Maybe England were scarred by their SA experience, what whatever, but after the wickets produced in this last Ashes, I think it is safe to say that the whole concept of pitch doctoring is an anachronism now.

    Australia have a posse of exciting fast bowlers who are only getting better and Clarke should drop the political correctness, we most certainly prepare the fast bouncy wickets our batter and bowlers like.

  • POSTED BY Frank99 on | August 27, 2013, 0:35 GMT

    It will be a first if what Clark says is true - just look at the change to the Brisbane wicket pre and post Warne - they are all at it. In Oz they call it sportmanship!

    Of course the solution is to abolish the toss and allow the visiting team the choice, only then will we get good test wickets - and by that I mean a bit for the quicks for the first 40 overs, then a good batting surface for the next three days before assisting spin for the rest of the match

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | August 26, 2013, 22:32 GMT

    England has to doctor the pitches, they had no chance against our pace attack if they produced bouncy pitches, especially with harris, the best bowler on either side.

  • POSTED BY mux164 on | August 26, 2013, 21:22 GMT

    australia has never to my knowledge doctored pitches, they are the same season after season, sydney spins, perth is fast and bouncy, the gabba is the gabba, same as adelaide is good for both spinners and pace bowlers

  • POSTED BY 2MikeGattings on | August 26, 2013, 21:05 GMT

    Doctoring the wickets is not in keeping with the current Aussie "brand", is it? I wouldn't be particularly surprised if Australia water the pitches selectively to nullify Swann's areas the same way India used to do for Warne. I would however be extremely surprised if anybody admitted to doing it.

  • POSTED BY samincolumbia on | August 26, 2013, 19:27 GMT

    If not for pitch doctoring, Australia would have won 4-0 in India and 5-0 in England. That's what Clarkey is tyring to say. The biggest surprise is how he is still leading the side. At least, in India, he made plenty of runs. I guess the doctoring did not affect his batting after all! In England, he could not even bat. From DRS, on field umpires, third umpires, rain, bad light (which actually saved the aussies from total humiliation at the Oval) and now pitch doctoring, he would have to invent new excuses after 5-0 thrashing by England in Aussie land.

  • POSTED BY glen1 on | August 26, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    The best way to break the morale of a visiting team is to doctor the first pitch; or play your first test match on a pitch that favors the home team (essentially the same). After that, only the best teams can recover; the rest bite the dust like the Australian Team visiting India that broke down in a million ways.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2013, 18:15 GMT

    The problem with pitch doctoring is if the toss decides the final outcome then it becomes the lottery. England won despite Australia being well set in 2 of the 3 matches, in the 4th innings. Trent Bridge, Durham, Oval were all still pretty good by the last innings. Lords probably was had Australia turned up in either innings. Indeed England posted their highest total in each win in the 3rd innings, so they were hardly bad wickets. England sought to make it hard work for Australia's seamers by producing dry tracks. By default they did help Swann, but also the Aussie spinners. Let's not forget Australia started producing grassy green tops in the last series after Swann spun them out in Adelaide. Problem was Australia either lost the toss or batted first and caused their own downfall.

  • POSTED BY gsingh7 on | August 26, 2013, 18:13 GMT

    pitch doctoring is always claimed by losing teams. england never claimed india doctored pitches as they won 2-1 thanks to monty and kp.they wud have claimed if they lost 2-1. pakistan did claimed sa doctored pitches to destroy their already weak batting but it is false. as we have seen in ct2013 pak batting is weak on ALL surfaces. australia will have to lift their game if they want to win ashes at homegrounds,no need of doctoring pitches.wishing it wud not be as one sided as this previous series.england had very hot summers so no grass was possible,similarly in india temperatures are above 40c for most of the year,so dry dusty tracks are the norm.

  • POSTED BY PrasPunter on | August 26, 2013, 12:42 GMT

    @Barnesy4444 , so india is a serial-offender - plain and simple.

  • POSTED BY ArthursAshes on | August 26, 2013, 12:35 GMT

    Home teams everywhere in the world have always produced wickets that suit them. In England however, the weather probably has more say, especially in helping pace bowlers that can swing it, than the wicket surface. England's pace attack had to bowl on the same wicket as Australia, Broad and Anderson picked up 44 wickets between them, so they had to work hard for them as well - yes?

    Would Australia produce dry wickets if they had someone like Warne, even if England had Swann? The trouble for Australia is that any wicket they produce to suit their own bowlers is likely to suit England's bowlers as well, maybe even more. Anyway, wasn't one of the recent criticism aimed at Australia's failing batsman is that in recent years their wickets have become bowler friendly? No wonder Australia have all these young quicks coming through with inflated first class averages, but no spinners, while their batsman struggle. I doubt whether England are too concerned.

  • POSTED BY spindizzy on | August 26, 2013, 12:15 GMT

    The simple solution for pitch doctoring is to always give the visiting side the decision on who bats first. In one step you'll remove any advantage that could be gained and also allow the best possible selections for both teams. The toss of a coin is a bizarre way to decide it anyway.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2013, 11:55 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge I think 3-0 was an extremely flattering result. 2-1 would have been fairer overall, if not 2-2. At Trent Bridge, we should have flattened Aus, but then they came back fighting. Lords was a walkover. If the weather had held out for one more session at Old Trafford, Aus would have won. Aus probably should have won at Durham, but for Stuart Broad's traditional once a year good spell, and a draw was probably a fair result at the Oval, given that Clarke tried to move the game along on day 5.

    To say Clarke doesn't deserve the job is ridiculous. Admittedly some of his decisions were baffling, such as not playing Lyon for the first 2 tests, and his persistence with Starc opening the bowling. But given that this team isn't world number 1 calibre, and us English are supposed to be near the top of our game, they have given a reasonable account of themselves. They've now got the chance to stick with a consistent batting lineup, and combine for a cracking Ashes contest down under

  • POSTED BY dmat on | August 26, 2013, 11:32 GMT

    I think the value of winning the toss is greater than home ground advantage. This is what should be changed.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | August 26, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    @electric_loco_WAP4, No not many surprises. England win 3-0 and Aus were lucky it wasn't 4-0. I predicted 4-0 before the series began, which was a pretty close estimate. My biggest surprise is that Clarke still has a job.

  • POSTED BY electric_loco_WAP4 on | August 26, 2013, 10:45 GMT

    Bad light ,rain save Eng and Cooks backside this time and had a lot of luck not losing 1 or 2 others ,any surprises ?

  • POSTED BY Blokker on | August 26, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    The English have only recently started to doctor pitches. Shame to do it, because it detracts from a ground's traditional flavour. However, they are the ultimate professionals these days, so you'd kind of expect it.

  • POSTED BY Shaggy076 on | August 26, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    sachinvvs fan; South Africa chose to come to Australia in early December, as they wanted boxing day at home. As such they got the pitches we play on in early December. Sri Lanka got two of the flattest pitches Sydney and Melbourne and South Africa got the flat pitch of Adelaide. If Australia were trying to rig it why would we take them on in Perth. So you are wrong we didnt do anything untoward to negate Steyn. So does that make us entitled to have a go at other countries for doctoring pitches.

  • POSTED BY Barnesy4444 on | August 26, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    It's unacceptable to "doctor" pitches. India has always produced dry turners, it's expected. But for a country with a moist, temperate climate where it rains more days than not, producing dry dead pitches is simply unacceptable.

    Whether Australia wins or not is irrelevant. If England are as good as they say they are then they shouldn't need doctored pitches. Plain and simple.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    Come on Aust, dont doctor pitches, just because we're rated lower on the test rankings doesn't mean we can't take the higher ground on this issue. Let the curators do their job!

  • POSTED BY S.Jagernath on | August 26, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    Why should Australia not prepare pitches that favour them against England?Pitches are doctored against India all over the world,pitches were highly green on India's last tours to England,South Africa & Australia & to be honest I loved it.Rahul Dravid produced a few classics on pitches that seamed & bounced heavily.Sachin Tendulkar produced 2 brillian centuries in S.A.I think pitches need far more grass in England & Australia regularly,these dry & flat pitches aren't that interesting,they don't even spin on day 4 & 5.

  • POSTED BY markatnotts on | August 26, 2013, 9:40 GMT

    For all the talk of so called prep of pitches for home advantage it is very hard to achieve in England, pitches were always going to be dry anyway given the weather. And it is probably nigh on impossible to produce a "rank turner" that is acceptable as a Test match pitch in Englands. I still think overhead conditions have much more of an impact. indeed when we beat India at Trent Bridge in 2011, there was very low bounce and little pace in the surface. I distinctly remember the ball carrying through to the keeper at knee height. I suspect in Australia there is also a limit to what can be altered whilst staying within ICC standards.

  • POSTED BY pon009 on | August 26, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    I am a bit surprised Kp and Trott claiming that brand of cricket england play is aggressive.They have been forced by MC sporting decln.They only played aggressively after they are sure they cant lose.

  • POSTED BY willsrustynuts on | August 26, 2013, 9:25 GMT

    The Indians moaned endlessly about doctored pitches when they were thrashed in Australia and in England. Then the Indians thrashed Australia on their home pitches and England... oh no, England won. Hhhhm, maybe the pitches are the first refuge of the defeated?

    Very naive of Clarke and his advisor's to think that you can win test matches by declaring every innings.... try scoring 600+ and then bowling the opposition out twice. Declaring first innings with less than 600 on the board is nonsense - unless you are playing against teams at the bottom of the Test Rankings you will not win many.

  • POSTED BY muzika_tchaikovskogo on | August 26, 2013, 9:08 GMT

    I think Australian pitches have become increasingly lifeless in recent years. Its hard to remember when last we saw the kind of variety that characterised Australian pitches in the 90s.

  • POSTED BY chetan08 on | August 26, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    i dont know what kinda pitch will actually suit australia

  • POSTED BY sachin_vvsfan on | August 26, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    @PrasPunter Weren't SA denied the fast pitch/venue that they wanted( for practice) in AUS? . Then in the actual series you gave them flattest deck to negate steyn and co. I don't see anything wrong with that but only when you say you are the purists in the world.

  • POSTED BY MrKricket on | August 26, 2013, 7:27 GMT

    Perhaps we should have a standard Astroturf pitch for each ground as many of the local grounds in Australia have. Same pitch every day, weather proof, it takes the random element out of it.

    Probably be pretty dull though.

  • POSTED BY warnerbasher on | August 26, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    As Clarke says we do not doctor our wickets and thats way it should be. Bounce in Perth and Brisbane, bit of spin in Sydney, bit of both in Melbourne and fill ya boots in Adelaide. Been that way for years. If the English feel they need that advantage well good luck to them. I love our pitches as they are and look foward to a tight contest come November. I can guarantee one thing though. The Poms won't be getting the same bowling rubbish they received in 2010/2011 and they best pray that nothing happens to Swann and/or Anderson or the 3-0 will be reversed.

  • POSTED BY ToneMalone on | August 26, 2013, 6:54 GMT

    I find it sad when captains and former Test players laugh off the preparation of pitches to suit the home side, as if it were acceptable. Too often the result is an utter road, or a slow wicket that hampers strokeplay, or a crumbling mess that results in a three-day Test. And generally these pitches also make the toss of a coin even more critical.

    Is this really the Test cricket we want to watch?

    Pitches will already naturally favour the home side due to their batsmen's familiarity with the wickets in their country and climate. Beyond that, it's time to put a structure in place where curators proudly prepare their pitches in the best interests of cricket.

    If pitch preparation specifically favouring the home side was ever acceptable, it's high time for a re-think.

  • POSTED BY Shaggy076 on | August 26, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    MondoTv - I agree with your comments however, note this year Adelaide will be played on a completely new drop in wicket due to the ground refurbishment so it is very hard to know how it is going to behave.

  • POSTED BY Shaggy076 on | August 26, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    Kingowl; That is absolute rubbish. To quote you "The pitches that two visiting sides got were very different even at the same venues." For starters we have 6 test venues, played on 3 against South Africa and 3 against Sri Lanka. SO we did not play both teams at the same venue. We have pitches with different nature - took South Africa on in Perth which suits there pace and Sri Lanka on in Sydney which suits there spin. Surely if we were interested in results we would have reversed those two venues. So maybe try and use some facts in your winging posts so that you are not so easily discredited.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | August 26, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    He's ruled it out as the facts are that if it's a green top Australia haven't the technique to survive, and if takes spin the same result happens. Australia are truly lost: Even Harris at the end said they were 'going to have a word with the curators', forgetting of course that we all remember how it ended in places like Durham and Trent Bridge. Take a few DVDs of the last few Ashes and everyone can see Australia's problems when up against quality seam and spin bowling. We all know how that finishes. England have the most skillfull in Anderson and the biggest turner in Swann. Aussies should've kept quite about the pitches, it only serves to highlight their appalling record.

  • POSTED BY mondotv on | August 26, 2013, 6:19 GMT

    @KingOwl - that's just rubbish. Australia had a particularly dry winter and summer last year so all the pitches were dryer than normal for everyone. If Aus were trying to play SA on pitches that suited only them why on earth would they schedule a Test match in Perth? Here's my prediction 3 months out.. Brisbane - can be very tough 1st morning if green from rain but get through that and you set up the match. Good for spinners with extra bounce. Sydney - will always take spin. Good batting track Days 1 - 3, spinners tend to decide matches day 4 and 5 Melb. Drop in wicket - enough said. Possibly Aust most predictable pitch. Most bowlers will struggle. Adelaide - probably turn on days 4 and 5 but generally a road. Still we get a lot of results here. Perth - getting back to the old bouncy very fast WACA. Batsmen who get in on the WACA love it because the ball comes on to the bat nicely and the bounce is predictable. A good contest between bat and ball

  • POSTED BY Masking_Tape on | August 26, 2013, 5:56 GMT

    This is why I love and admire Clarke the captain. He's positive. He doesn't make things dull by trying to win. Go look at all his declarations, all are highly sporting ones, even the latest one yesterday. I hope he keeps it that way and others follow.

  • POSTED BY farkin on | August 26, 2013, 5:50 GMT

    the one thing you can say about English cricketers is they have no SPORTING-MANNER but are true sportsmen in never giving any one and even break

  • POSTED BY SlipsGlance on | August 26, 2013, 5:41 GMT

    KingOwl: "The pitches that two visiting sides got were very different even at the same venues." But they didn't play Tests at the same venues. SA played in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. SL played in Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney.

    " If that was not pitch doctoring, I don't know what is!" Maybe there's your answer...

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | August 26, 2013, 5:14 GMT

    @landl47 on (August 26, 2013, 2:44 GMT) I couldn't agree more. Any pitch Australia prepare will suit England's bowlers better than it will Australia's. And as for the batting - England have proved conclusively in Australia - that they can bat the socks off of the Aussies on their own pitches. As we like to say - it'll be fun to watch, and we'll be here watching it!

  • POSTED BY PrasPunter on | August 26, 2013, 5:00 GMT

    This is the thing I like about us. We never tampered with the wickets. Back in 2010/11 Ashes, there was a speculation about a green-top at Melbourne, but that didn't happen. Compare this with the approach of a certain team that went out of the way to prepare poor flat tracks, deny good batting practice etc to eng only to see it backfire. And not to forget the 'selective' watering against Aus !!! This is exactly the reason why we were such a dominant force. For sure, the tables are gonna turn around and we will be back to what we once were !! Proud to be an Aussie follower !! God bless !!

  • POSTED BY PFEL on | August 26, 2013, 4:33 GMT

    Look forward to the series in Australia, one of the only places in the world these days that doesn't, in an unsportsmanlike fashion, cater pitches to the home side's needs.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2013, 4:20 GMT

    With the drop in pitches that are used around Australia neither side gets the benefit and this is a good thing. This so called doctoring of pitches by home sides is something that Australia hated whenever they went to India or Pakistan. England had dry pitches to help Swann, but on the two occasions Australia won the toss they scored basically 500 runs. If you doctor the pitches you have to hope that you win the toss or it can backfire on you.

  • POSTED BY AidanFX on | August 26, 2013, 4:08 GMT

    "Of course home advantage gives you that choice to try as much as you can to push things in your favour". I would have thought the main part of the advantage of homeground is playing in front of the home crowd, and pitches you play more frequently than other places in the world; hence more custom too. I just don't get the over the top mindset of "you have advantages on your strips so we will go over the top on ours (ala India). Don't get me wrong I celebrate different style pitches in different countries and unique characteristics of certain grounds. But I don't at all agree that groundsman should be bullied or persuaded by the home team captain how to present the pitch. By all means India should produce turning wickets but a dustbowl from day one is a joke. A dust bowl in England whether dry summer or not is a joke. Australia should produce normal wickets, similar to the grounds normal characteristics - If Eng win - good on them.

  • POSTED BY truthfinder on | August 26, 2013, 4:01 GMT

    Dry pitches actually helped Australia. Most of the innings their top order could not perform as long as ball was new and pitch was fresh. In Nottingham and Old Traford they got hugely befitted from benign tracks. England mainly won the matches on Bell, Petersen's batting and Anderson, Broad/s bowling. The dry piches might have made Swann bit more effective but he could not destroy Aussi batting in OldTrafford or Oval. In 2011 Aussie was in hopeless situation in Brisbane (first inning), Melbourne or Sidney where it was pacy wicket.

  • POSTED BY KingOwl on | August 26, 2013, 2:47 GMT

    Blah, blah, blah! What a ridiculous statement from Mr. Clarke. We saw the pitches in Australia last year - how they changed between the South African tour, which was immediately followed by the Sri Lankan tour. The pitches that two visiting sides got were very different even at the same venues. If that was not pitch doctoring, I don't know what is! On the outcome of the test series: I think England were lucky to win 3-0. England certainly were not that good relative to Australia.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | August 26, 2013, 2:44 GMT

    How do Australia doctor the pitches so they will suit Australia but won't suit England? The England squad will likely contain Tremlett (6' 8"), Finn (6'7") and Broad (6' 5") to exploit pace and bounce. If the ball swings, they will have Anderson and Broad; if the ball reverse swings, they will have Anderson, Bresnan and Broad. If the ball turns, they will have Swann. If the ball does nothing, England has the better batting line-up- anyone remember 513-1, 620-5, 517 and 644 from 2010/11? The same batsmen will be back.

    If Aus is to win the series (and I never, ever underestimate the Australians) they will have to do it by being better than England in all conditions. There is no magic bullet in a doctored pitch which will favour Australia. England might not be a great side, but they have proved they can win in any conditions.

  • POSTED BY MinusZero on | August 26, 2013, 2:29 GMT

    Part of being the home team is making the pitches how you want. Last time England were in Australia and crushed them three times by an innings, I wonder if those pitches were to order for England. :P

  • POSTED BY meursault on | August 26, 2013, 2:16 GMT

    Yes, excellent penultimate paragraph. The series did turn out to be quite a clash of cultures: success-driven pragmatists versus flawed idealists. The ideological gap makes for an even greater rivalry and a more intriguing contest. Hopefully the Australian cricket public won't turn their back on the enterprising cricket ideology embodied by Clarke, Warne etc just because the current crop of players can't get them over the line against quality opposition right now. Has there ever been a test series where one team has declared much more than the other (4-1) yet managed to lose the series convincingly (0-3)? Quite a bizarre series.

  • POSTED BY Rahulbose on | August 26, 2013, 1:22 GMT

    It is hard to see what kind of a pitch would suit Aus when playing Eng. Avoiding spin friendly wickets is the only clear cut rule they can follow.

  • POSTED BY dalboy12 on | August 26, 2013, 1:10 GMT

    There are natural conditions that will always create an advantage for different teams. India, Sri Lanka etc are always going to turn. Aussie is always going to have more bounce and pace. England often has more swing. Here in NZ, the pitches can be pretty green. I'm looking forward to the series in Aussie, as I think its going tight. The pitches there will be quicker and will have a higher bounce, however England has players that could use that to their advantage as well as the Aussies.

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | August 26, 2013, 0:48 GMT

    I have to agree with Cook on that last point. People will say that it was only Clarke's doing that the game got interesting in the last day but he was rather manipulated into doing that by England. If they had played more aggressively and got out in their first innings and been made to follow on then things could have been very different. England used up time and made absolutely sure to avoid the follow on and then we saw how their scoring picked up to a decent rate. Everyone pretty much knew that Clarke was going to have a dip at some quick runs and then try to bowl England out quickly so, from that point of view, England put themselves in a position to take advantage. In the second innings, despite Australia being desperate for quick runs, England were the ones to score faster and did so without losing as many wickets or changing their batting order. When push came to shove, Australia were as keen to get off for bad light as England had ever been.

  • POSTED BY OneEyedAussie on | August 26, 2013, 0:42 GMT

    What cricket fans want to see is a playing surface where the influence of the toss is minimised. A bit in it for the first day for the fast bowlers, a good batting surface on day 2-3 and then start to take turn later with a result on day 5. This is how we prepare pitches in Australia and we should keep doing so.

  • POSTED BY on | August 25, 2013, 23:41 GMT

    Well said clarke. Pitch doctoring is a ridiculous exercise. The players and coaches should be worried about playing cricket not on how the pitch should behave - that is the curator's job who makes these pitches how he or ICC wants it not how the home team wants it. As an indian fan I was embarrassed by pitches served to Australia and England, and how dhoni kept arguing with curator. I would like to apologise to all the Australians and English fans on the behalf of Indian cricket team, because that was ridiculous.

  • POSTED BY Unifex on | August 25, 2013, 22:46 GMT

    Fair enough, Cook, you should always make it hard for your opponent and use what he's trying to do against him. England was negative on the third day, but they used the situation pretty well today. You've got to have the ability to do things like bat quickly after passing the follow-on,and bowling tightly when the opposition wants to attack, so fair play to the Poms there.

  • POSTED BY on | August 25, 2013, 22:39 GMT

    I still don't get how we have dropped to number 5 when the only teams that have beaten us in test series are South Africa, India at home and England which apart from 1 match was a lot closer then the score line suggested. We beat all the other test playing nations. well aside from Bangladesh and zimbabwe as they don't count as we don't play them, because they aren't test worthy.

  • POSTED BY on | August 25, 2013, 22:39 GMT

    I still don't get how we have dropped to number 5 when the only teams that have beaten us in test series are South Africa, India at home and England which apart from 1 match was a lot closer then the score line suggested. We beat all the other test playing nations. well aside from Bangladesh and zimbabwe as they don't count as we don't play them, because they aren't test worthy.

  • POSTED BY Unifex on | August 25, 2013, 22:46 GMT

    Fair enough, Cook, you should always make it hard for your opponent and use what he's trying to do against him. England was negative on the third day, but they used the situation pretty well today. You've got to have the ability to do things like bat quickly after passing the follow-on,and bowling tightly when the opposition wants to attack, so fair play to the Poms there.

  • POSTED BY on | August 25, 2013, 23:41 GMT

    Well said clarke. Pitch doctoring is a ridiculous exercise. The players and coaches should be worried about playing cricket not on how the pitch should behave - that is the curator's job who makes these pitches how he or ICC wants it not how the home team wants it. As an indian fan I was embarrassed by pitches served to Australia and England, and how dhoni kept arguing with curator. I would like to apologise to all the Australians and English fans on the behalf of Indian cricket team, because that was ridiculous.

  • POSTED BY OneEyedAussie on | August 26, 2013, 0:42 GMT

    What cricket fans want to see is a playing surface where the influence of the toss is minimised. A bit in it for the first day for the fast bowlers, a good batting surface on day 2-3 and then start to take turn later with a result on day 5. This is how we prepare pitches in Australia and we should keep doing so.

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | August 26, 2013, 0:48 GMT

    I have to agree with Cook on that last point. People will say that it was only Clarke's doing that the game got interesting in the last day but he was rather manipulated into doing that by England. If they had played more aggressively and got out in their first innings and been made to follow on then things could have been very different. England used up time and made absolutely sure to avoid the follow on and then we saw how their scoring picked up to a decent rate. Everyone pretty much knew that Clarke was going to have a dip at some quick runs and then try to bowl England out quickly so, from that point of view, England put themselves in a position to take advantage. In the second innings, despite Australia being desperate for quick runs, England were the ones to score faster and did so without losing as many wickets or changing their batting order. When push came to shove, Australia were as keen to get off for bad light as England had ever been.

  • POSTED BY dalboy12 on | August 26, 2013, 1:10 GMT

    There are natural conditions that will always create an advantage for different teams. India, Sri Lanka etc are always going to turn. Aussie is always going to have more bounce and pace. England often has more swing. Here in NZ, the pitches can be pretty green. I'm looking forward to the series in Aussie, as I think its going tight. The pitches there will be quicker and will have a higher bounce, however England has players that could use that to their advantage as well as the Aussies.

  • POSTED BY Rahulbose on | August 26, 2013, 1:22 GMT

    It is hard to see what kind of a pitch would suit Aus when playing Eng. Avoiding spin friendly wickets is the only clear cut rule they can follow.

  • POSTED BY meursault on | August 26, 2013, 2:16 GMT

    Yes, excellent penultimate paragraph. The series did turn out to be quite a clash of cultures: success-driven pragmatists versus flawed idealists. The ideological gap makes for an even greater rivalry and a more intriguing contest. Hopefully the Australian cricket public won't turn their back on the enterprising cricket ideology embodied by Clarke, Warne etc just because the current crop of players can't get them over the line against quality opposition right now. Has there ever been a test series where one team has declared much more than the other (4-1) yet managed to lose the series convincingly (0-3)? Quite a bizarre series.

  • POSTED BY MinusZero on | August 26, 2013, 2:29 GMT

    Part of being the home team is making the pitches how you want. Last time England were in Australia and crushed them three times by an innings, I wonder if those pitches were to order for England. :P

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | August 26, 2013, 2:44 GMT

    How do Australia doctor the pitches so they will suit Australia but won't suit England? The England squad will likely contain Tremlett (6' 8"), Finn (6'7") and Broad (6' 5") to exploit pace and bounce. If the ball swings, they will have Anderson and Broad; if the ball reverse swings, they will have Anderson, Bresnan and Broad. If the ball turns, they will have Swann. If the ball does nothing, England has the better batting line-up- anyone remember 513-1, 620-5, 517 and 644 from 2010/11? The same batsmen will be back.

    If Aus is to win the series (and I never, ever underestimate the Australians) they will have to do it by being better than England in all conditions. There is no magic bullet in a doctored pitch which will favour Australia. England might not be a great side, but they have proved they can win in any conditions.