Starc pitches into England

2015-07-28 06:48
Mitchell Starc (File)

Birmingham - Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc weighed into the ongoing row over the state of pitches for the Ashes series on Monday by accusing England of not knowing what they want.

Following the tourists' crushing 405-run win in the second Test at Lord's, which levelled the five-match series at 1-1, Trevor Bayliss - England's Australian coach - called for typical English seaming wickets rather than the slow and low pitch at the 'home of cricket' which he said had played "into the Australians' hands".

There have been suggestions that England and Wales Cricket Board chiefs have ordered groundsmen to prepare deliberately slow surfaces for the five-match series in a bid to blunt Australia's impressive pace attack, although England team director Andrew Strauss has denied issuing such a request.

But with the tourists' quicks significantly faster than their England counterparts, Australia took the surface out of the equation at Lord's, where the lack of seam movement hampered James Anderson more than anyone.

That match saw Anderson, England's most successful Test bowler with 406 wickets, go wicketless for the first time in 59 Tests.

"They're not really sure what they want to do now," Starc said Monday ahead of the third Test, which starts at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

"Some of their team want batting-friendly wickets and that hasn't helped them at Lord's.

"They want to get their bowlers back in the game, but we've got the pace as well.

"It doesn't matter what they dish up. We've got all bases covered."

The Test pitch at Edgbaston, the Birmingham headquarters of county side Warwickshire, had a decent covering of grass when the covers were removed on Monday.

Warwickshire groundsman Gary Barwell didn't lack for advice on Monday, with ECB pitches consultant Chris Wood and Mick Hunt, the long-serving Lord's groundsman, both examining the pitch.

When the pitch was covered a set of lamps more commonly associated with the cultivation of cannabis -- an illegal drug in Britain -- were placed near the wicket.

The lamps, borrowed from West Midlands police - who removed them from local cannabis growers -- and used previously to aid pitch preparation at Edgbaston, can help dry the outfield which, ahead of the Ashes clash, has been pelted with rain during the past few days.

And when the heat from the lamps is shone directly on the pitch, this is said to aid the quest for extra pace and bounce.

But with just two days until the Test starts, Barwell effectively only has two options that are now likely to have a major impact upon the state of the pitch -- leave the grass on or cut it off.

"I will be surprised if it stays the way it is," said Starc of the heavily scrutinised surface.

"If it does, then I am sure all the quicks will be lining up."

Whatever the eventual state of the pitch, England will have to improve their play against an Australia pace attack led by Starc's fellow left-armer Mitchell Johnson and also featuring Josh Hazlewood.

England all-rounder Moeen Ali recently said Johnson had "bowled very well in one innings out of four" this series.

But the way in which Ali was bounced out by Johnson, fending a rising delivery to short leg as England collapsed to a woeful 103 all out in their second innings at Lord's, suggested Australia's spearhead was coming into form.

"Moeen can keep watching the replay of the ball he got in the second innings if he likes. I don't want to face that stuff," Starc said.

England have rejigged their line-up in a bid to avoid the kind of top-order collapse that has seen them three wickets down for 43 or fewer runs seven times in their last 13 Test innings.

Gary Ballance has been dropped and replaced by Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow, who is averaging over 100 in the County Championship this season.

Bairstow is set to bat at number five with the struggling Ian Bell due to take Ballance's place at number three.

"Anytime you have got the opposition changing line-ups you are in a good spot," said Starc.

Read more on:    england  |  australia  |  ashes  |  mitchell starc  |  cricket

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