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India and England played on a flat track at Trent Bridge in the first Test. Bharath Ramaraj explores whether it resulted in an overreaction what with the ongoing second Test at Lord‘s being played on a seaming deck.
We as sports enthusiasts marvel at the lyrical flow of a riveting Test match. There are few sights more soul-lifting than cricketers’ battles in the endless ebbs and flows of cricket. However, for the paying public to get its money‘s worth, a game of cricket needs a sporting track that offers some help for the bowlers. The first Test that took place between England and India at Trent Bridge though, was played on a flat deck that lacked bite for either spinners or pacers to come to the party.
Yes, in recent times, new drainage systems that have come in place in most English grounds have led to tracks in England losing its bite. Kevin Pietersen himself gave his views on the new drainage system. He said, “Home advantage was lost when new drainage systems were installed at Test venues turning our pitches into sandpits. They are horrendous. They give little to the seamers and when it spins, it does so slowly, negating the threat of the turning ball, ” according to The Daily Telegraph.
The track at Trent Bridge didn’t offer anything for the seamers, and as the track was slow, it had little assistance for the spinners as well. Even last year when England met Australia in The Ashes 2013, they played on atypical Trent Bridge wicket. It took James Anderson reversing the old ball with transcendent control for England to beat Australia in a cliffhanger.
Actually, it is good to see that David Boon, the match referee for the first Test at Trent Bridge rated the track “poor.“ It also means that Nottinghamshire are going to pay a penalty for the barren track they prepared for the first Test.
Now the question is, did the lifeless track at Trent Bridge lead to an overreaction? For the second Test at Lord‘s, a green looking track was prepared. However, it has to be said that there was a time when tracks in England were made of wickets full of live grass. It can also be said that batsmen have enjoyed batting so much on lifeless tracks since the dawn of the new century, that occasionally they need to be tested, where good batsmen can score runs and pass the trial by fire.
For all the criticism of the wicket prepared for the second Test, scores notched up by both teams have been quite good. Yes, barring Bhuvneshwar Kumar and to a lesser extent, Anderson in the first innings, the bowlers haven’t used the conditions well. There is even a feeling that seasoned county pros like Glen Chapple, David Masters, Alan Richardson or Graham Onions would have been more effective in the first innings for England.
In short, batsmen who have shown the application and the technique have performed well. Ajinkya Rahane and Gary Ballance compiled hundreds. Murali Vijay has looked good in the second innings. Of course, there would be arguments that the track prepared for the second Test offered excessive movement for the seamers. However, it is better to prepare a wicket that offers help for the bowlers rather than rolling out a lifeless deck.
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)
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