West Indies v Australia, 2nd Test, Port-of-Spain April 15, 2012

Parched Queen's Park Oval pitch likened to Kanpur


A tinder-dry Queen's Park Oval pitch drew comparisons to Kanpur as West Indies and Australia weighed up the possibility of decking their teams with spin when the second Test begins on Sunday.

Having initially offered a slightly damp, tacky appearance when viewed by the tourists on their first visit to the ground on Friday, the strip had dried considerably by the time they took a second look the day before the match, while also showing evidence of surface cracking. Oil stains left by the heavy roller gave the wicket a slightly mottled look, and gave Darren Sammy and Michael Clarke much to ponder ahead of a match the hosts must win to stay in the race for the Frank Worrell Trophy.

Nathan Lyon and Michael Beer both bowled lengthy spells in the nets, Lyon frequently in discussions with the coach Mickey Arthur, and Clarke said both would be considered. Having not chosen two specialist spin bowlers in the same team even when confronted by the sharply turning Galle pitch in Sri Lanka last September, playing both would be quite a departure for the visitors, and would also force the omission of one of Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus or Peter Siddle - a difficult call in every case.

"It [two spinners] is definitely worth thinking about, for sure," Clarke said. "The wicket looks very dry, yesterday as soon as they took the covers off it looked a bit tacky, but no doubt there's a big possibility we could play two spinners on that wicket for sure."

Arthur mentioned Kanpur when asked to name a pitch of similar appearance. He was coaching South Africa in 2008 when they were confronted by a sharply spinning track on which India levelled the series at one match apiece. After South Africa were rolled for 121 in the third innings to lose in three days, Kanpur's officials were warned by the ICC for preparing a strip rated as "poor", just as Galle's was last year.

The Port-of-Spain pitch has returned a series of low scoring results in recent times, and offered plenty of assistance to spin bowlers. The hosts included the offspin of Shane Shillingford, in addition to Devendra Bishoo's leg breaks and Narsingh Deonarine's part-timers, in a squad of 14 in anticipation of more of the same. However its low and variable bounce means that fast bowlers can also reap rewards, provided they are straight and accurate. Shane Watson and Sammy are two such men who will be capable of hitting the same spot ball after ball.

"[There has been] a lot of first-class cricket played here [this season] and so far there's been a result. So we expect this pitch to be one that will have a [result]," Sammy said. "When we play here it is a little bit low as well, so I think bowling straight would be the key.

"You've got to be accurate and I think that's what we're going to look to do. We have Fidel [Edwards], [Kemar] Roach, bowling quick. If they're accurate, like they were in Barbados, and a few decisions that were close end up in our favour, it could be a different story. We're looking to go out and play another good Test match, hopefully we can be on the winning side.

"We've included Shillingford in the line-up, everyone in the 14-man squad is eligible for selection, the chairman is here so we will make some decisions on the best combination to help us win the Test match."

Rain is predicted to intervene on most days of the Test, leaving Clarke to also factor that into his team selection and tactics. "I think rain's definitely going to play a part, the forecast is for rain for the first three days of the Test match," Clarke said. "They say the drainage here is very good, and it rained a fair bit yesterday but the ground was still fine to play on. So it's going to be more the lack of time in the game [that could effect the result]. Come 5pm, I think it's going to be quite dark as well."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on April 17, 2012, 5:18 GMT

    @insightfulcricketer - The SCG didn't offer up variable bounce on the 1st day in any of those tests. As for the bit about the pitch being dished up to beat the WIndies, the SCG pitch was a slow low turner for most of the 80s in FC cricket too. It didn't suddenly become a spinning deck just to counter the WIndies. @Naren Radhakrishnan - don't get turning pitches & mixed up with pitches that have variable bounce. Galle had variable bounce, & I'd be surprised if there isn't a tap on the shoulders for the WIndies regarding this pitch. Most people have no problems with turning strips (part of the game), but mully grubbers on the first day is POOR! @igorolman/WackyWalrus - don't forget, that "Greentops" also spin - just ask Warney!

  • Rajaram on April 15, 2012, 21:34 GMT

    The Australian Think Tank has wisely chosen two quality spinners.Michael Clarke can turn the ball too. And three fast bowlers - Pattinson,Hlfenhaus and Watson.

  • Vivek on April 15, 2012, 17:39 GMT

    @Naren Radhakrishnan The ICC are actually right here (quite surprisingly)! Turning tracks usually come with variable bounce that can be really dangerous for the batsman. The poor batsman will never know whether the ball is coming at his throat or at his groin! On the other hand, most green pitches provide true bounce. And they provide a lot of lateral movement also, which can only help a batsman to improve his technique. Sadly, there is no pitch in the world which can make the ball turn square and also offer true bounce. Now that would be ideal, wouldn't it?

  • Matt on April 15, 2012, 17:06 GMT

    Boys and girls, don't feed the trolls. @Naren - Greentops can (and usually do, if the batsmen are good enough to stay in) flatten out, and even take turn later in the match. A raging turner has only one place to go - an even more raging turner. As all good judges (and the ICC) agree, a 'good' cricket wicket should offer help to the quicks early, flatten out for the batsmen in the middle, and take sharper spin towards the end. Indifferent bounce is likewise allowable on day 5. What we're all agreed on is that pitches that never deteriorate and end up 600 v 600 are bad, and stodgy, suet-puddingy wickets that inhibit strokemaking while offering no help to the bowler - so the game is an attritional battle with nothing for the spectator - are even worse.

  • Dummy4 on April 15, 2012, 16:30 GMT

    Any know how many times has ICC or whoever warned a ground or a board for preparing a green top? Why is it that only tracks that are vicious spinners get picked up for warning? Arent cricketers supposed to be able to play on all kinds of surfaces????

  • Bunty on April 15, 2012, 15:18 GMT

    Its not like Kanpur pitch. The more apt one is the crumbling Sydney wicket which was prepared regularly to be able to compete with West Indies in '80s otherwise in all other venues it was bloody noses and huge losses.Alan Border and Holland ( who?) were matchwinners against WI. That Mr. Brettig is the right comparison.

  • Varun on April 15, 2012, 15:15 GMT

    @puroniks: This is certainly not a boring series. Australia is always an intriguing team to watch; they play tough, competitive cricket. WI is an up-and-coming team, with some serious talent like Adrian Barath, Darren Bravo, Fidel Edwards and Devendra Bishoo. HOW ON EARTH is Michael Clarke an unimaginative captain? With this statement, you show a complete lack of cricketing knowledge and common sense. Clarke is a very exciting player; although his captaincy is still in its infancy, he has shown that his leadership and tactical skills are worth reckoning with. His declaration in the first innings showed a daring mindset and contributing greatly to his team's eventual win. MS Dhoni has been continually criticised for his poor Test captaincy and Andrew Strauss must prove himself as a worthy batsman before he begin to discuss his captaincy (although it's pretty good).

  • Dummy4 on April 15, 2012, 14:23 GMT

    I can only assume Bishoo wasn't selected because Sammy wasn't fit enough to bowl long spells with Roach. In other words Sammy is not fit enough. To me this is a big mistake, not to play Bishoo. The Aussies made the correct move.

  • Shawn on April 15, 2012, 14:13 GMT

    It shouldn't be dark by five, unless the rainclouds are present, now is actually the time of year that the days get longer in Trinidad, so without rainclouds play should be able to go til about 6. With a spinning pitch and low bounce we should perhaps keep to one spinner with Deonarine as back up, which was done, but again we see the finicky selection process dropping Bishoo after one bad game. I thouught Rampaul could have gotten a chance as it is his home ground and he is a thinking bowler, who usually adapts to conditions well, but the team did wel last testl and the bowling attack deserves to keep their place.

  • Girik on April 15, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    @puroniks, stop trolling. This, like every other Test series between top 8 nations where both sides actually care about Tests, is an exciting one. I think you are right when you say Ponting should have retired by now but Tendulkar should have retired even earlier. Considering his lack of contributing to the team cause, he should have retired around the same time as Ganguly with Dravid, Laxman and Sehwag leading the transition. Also Dhoni can't handle unlimited overs cricket. Batting or captaincy wise.

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