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John Stern: Dire Bangalore pitch sounds Ashes warning

October 14th, 2008 by John Stern in Australia in India, Test cricket

Much discussion in Wisden Cricketer Towers these past few days about which
had more bounce: Ishant Sharma’s hair or the pathetic Bangalore pitch.
That first Test was nearly a great match but the ebb and flow was that of a
muddy river – so turgid that in the end everybody gave up and went home. It
wasn’t even a slow turner, it was just slow. It did India no favours. Their
spinners were ineffectual and predictable, their quicks had to summon every
trick from their armoury.

A colleague commented that Sharma’s hair was the most exciting thing about
Test cricket. Stretching a point, I reckon, but certainly the most exciting
thing about this Test.

For next summer’s Ashes the ECB have done extraordinarily well to miss out
the quickest pitch in England (Old Trafford) and another venue (Trent
Bridge) where England have had success and beat the Aussies in ‘05.

Instead we start in Cardiff, a decision that looks increasingly
preposterous, on a pitch whose low-slow reputation seems to be borne out by
the fact that the groundsman has walked and been replaced by the emergency pitch
doctor Andy Atkinson. And then to Lord’s of course, where the last six Tests
have been draws and the most recent was a wretched affair that involved Neil
McKenzie batting for a week.

In 1964 Old Trafford witnessed the most boring Test match ever played.
Without any interruptions for rain, the match just made it into the third
innings. Bob Simpson made 311, Ken Barrington 256 in 11 hours and an Aussie
offspinner called Tom Veivers bowled 95 overs.

If Test cricket is really dying on its arse it needs putting down and the
way to do that is to play out an impossibly boring series, a goalless draw
of such mind-numbing proportions that players get fined by the ICC not for
slow over-rates but slow batting. It would be hilarious. Except that not
everyone would get the joke.

John Stern is editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in Australia in India, Test cricket |

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