Sunday, September 5, 2010
Ashes 2010/11- Adelaide cricket ground
If we think about cricket or any other sport for the matter, one of the greatest changes that we have come across is the way grounds all over the world have been modernised. If we think about our beautiful sport cricket there was a time when we would see more than a few grounds having grassy banks, but nowadays, we hardly see grounds with grassy banks instead we can see concrete stands. I am all for redevelopment, but it would be better if some of aesthetics of the ground are kept to give a traditional feel to it. If we think about the topic on hand, Adelaide cricket ground, redevelopment took place last year, but even now we can see trees with St. Peter's Cathedral in the backdrop. It is a ground which has been able to retain some of its tradition.
After having a brief look at the picturesque ground, let us focus on the all important battle for the Ashes at the Adelaide cricket ground.
Conditions at Adelaide cricket ground
If the Adelaide ground can look like a beautiful paradise for a cricket connoisseur, the same can be said for a batsman too as the pitch at Adelaide is a batting paradise. I do remember Martin Crowe saying that whenever he would play at the Adelaide cricket ground, he would think about scoring a century as the pitch is great for batting. The toss is always crucial at Adelaide as teams batting first would get the first chance on that batting beauty, though it doesn't mean that batsmen can just show up at the ground and he can get a century as just like most test hundreds, one has to work hard for it, but any batsman would love to play atleast once at Adelaide.
So, does it mean that there would be nothing for the bowlers? It need not be the case as there would be a bit of rough created on the fourth day and fifth day and as the wicket would be dry, it is the only ground in Australia which would help the quicker bowlers to get reverse swing. Actually, I can't remember Adelaide ground getting soaked by a downpour since the first day of the match between India and Australia in 1992. So, the conditions would be usually dry. Yes, thanks to the rough created by natural wear and tear spinners can come into play on fourth and fifth day, but unlike some of the other Australian tracks, spinners won't get the advantage of bounce and that is one of the prime reasons why Sheikh of Tweak Warne has got 56 wickets but at 30.44. The fact is, spinners can take wickets at Adelaide, but they have to work hard for their wickets.
At Adelaide, it is all about winning the toss, getting a good score on the board and once a team gets a good score, there would be pressure on the opposition of chasing down a huge score. Yes, couple of teams like India in 03/04 and Australia in 06/07 have won after the team batting first got a good score on the board, but such occasions are rare.
Australia at Adelaide
If we look at Australia's record in recent times, it is crystal clear that they have dominated at the Adelaide cricket ground. It won't surprise anyone as the Aussies have been blessed with some great players in the past. In-fact since 1990, they have won thirteen tests, lost three and drawn five games. Since 2000, they have been ever more of a dominant force at Adelaide as they have won seven games, lost one and drawn two matches. The only loss came against India in 03/04, but both McGrath and Warne weren't playing in that match.
The only encouraging sign for England is, both McGrath and Warne have retired now and in the last three tests at Adelaide, couple of games have been drawn. So, it remains to be seen whether Bollinger, Johnson, Hauritz, Siddle and Hilfy have the ability to bowl out opponents on tracks like Adelaide. Bollinger can be a key bowler at Adelaide as he can find a bit of reverse swing with the older ball in hand.
England at Adelaide
As expected, England have struggled at Adelaide in the last two decades as the team has suffered three losses, won just one game with the match in 90/91 ending in a draw. The only match England have been able to win was way back in 94/95, when Australia had a good side, but they weren't yet the invincibles.
To get wickets at Adelaide, the quicker bowlers have to be extremely disciplined and as I said should extract some reverse swing with the older ball. If the spinner in the side is a wrist spinner it would be handy as he can get more turn. The fact is, spinners who are mainly stock bowlers like Giles would likely struggle big time at Adelaide.
If I look at England's attack, it is no brainier that Swann has to be the key bowler as he imparts more turn than say Giles and has enough variations to trouble the batsmen. Of course, as Aussies have few left-handers in their side, he would be more than a handful. Jimmy Anderson these days has got the ability to not just reverse it back into the right-hander, but can also shape it away from a right-handed batsman with the older ball. Anderson though, has to bowl fuller with the old ball as the fuller a bowler bowls, harder it would be for the batsmen to play late swing. For instance, at Old Trafford against Bangladesh, Anderson was getting enough reverse swing to trouble the Bangladeshis, but as he wasn't bowling full enough, batsmen were able to escape as they were given that little bit of extra time to play the late swing. At Oval though, he bowled full and sent Yousuf's stumps for a walk and even dismissing Powell and Nash at Trinidad by bowling a fuller length can be considered. Even if a bowler bowls a full toss with the old ball he shouldn't worry as if it is reversing, a bowler has to bowl full and look for yorkers. Broad can give him good support with the older ball as he can bowl cross seam, but would someone please tell him not to test the middle of the pitch?
So, it can be seen that having an attacking spinner and bowling with the old ball can be a key factor at Adelaide. In-fact, one of the reasons for England's humiliating defeat at the hands of Australia in 06/07 at Adelaide inspite of getting a good score on the board was because only Hoggy used the old ball well, but he didn't have the pace of say Simon Jones to cause massive damage and as a result had to work harder for his wickets. It is also a fact that England had a spinner who, at best can be considered as a stock bowler.
As far as the batsmen are concerned, it is very important that they get a good score on the board. I have seen more than a few times when the batsmen haven't been able to get the runs even on flat tracks and the bowlers have been blamed for it. Any team should be able to get a good score at Adelaide.
Finally, England should go into the test match at Adelaide thinking that they can win it as there won't be much bounce on offer to trouble the batsmen. England's batsmen though have to get the runs on the board and more importantly, unlike Freddie in 06/07, Strauss has to look for wickets as if a captain spreads the field on a track like Adelaide, any good batsman can get a hundred, though would Strauss ever take the bull by its horns and attack is a huge question mark.