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By Julian Guyer
Nottingham: Jul 10, 2014
Nottinghamshire head groundsman Steve Birks said things hadn’t gone to plan after appearing to produce a pitch ideally suited for India, rather than England, in the first Test at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.
India, after winning the toss, were 259 for four at stumps on the first day of this five-match series, with opener Murali Vijay 122 not out and skipper MS Dhoni 50 not out after winning the toss on a surface that wouldn’t have been out of place back at home.
“We wanted to produce a pitch with pace, bounce and carry which hasn’t happened unfortunately,” Birks said.
“There’s quite a lot of moisture underneath but it’s a hard surface on top which is why it’s lacking pace.
He added: “Our only instruction is to produce a good cricket wicket and, with hindsight, we may have left a bit more grass on it but this is the first day of a five-day Test and, while I don’t expect spin to come into it, we hope it might quicken up a bit.”
Certainly there was little in the way of pace and bounce for England’s four seamers, with two possible chances dropping short of the slips.
James Anderson, who took two for 70 in 21 overs as he extended his all-time record for most Test wickets at Trent Bridge to 51, admitted it had had been hard pounding.
“It was frustrating really,” he said. “There’s not a lot we can do about it at this stage, we have to stick at it and winkle out six wickets if we can.”
The 31-year-old Lancashire seamer added: “I thought our attitude was fantastic. We could have moaned about the pitch and sulked but I thought all the bowlers stuck at their task brilliantly.
“As bowlers, we don’t expect seam movement, we expect flat pitches at Test level but we just expect our nicks to carry and a more even contest between bat and ball.”
Meanwhile Vijay said: “It’s a good wicket and the ball is coming nicely on to the bat.
“I don’t know about day two and three. A lot of people have told me that overcast conditions can change the nature of the pitch a bit.
“Hopefully, when we bowl we can get some help.”
Prior to the match, exiled England batsman Kevin Pietersen used his Daily Telegraph column to argue that modern drainage systems had turned English Test 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.
“The drainage was addressed with the best of intentions; to give the public as much cricket as possible by reducing the amount of overs lost to rain.
“But in terms of the quality of cricket the public are seeing, it is not good enough.”
During last year’s 3-0 home Ashes win, England were accused by some Australian critics of preparing slow, turning pitches that favoured now retired off-spinner Graeme Swann and negated the tourists’ pace attack.
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