Pitch Report: Edgbaston
Ends: City End, Pavilion End
Home Team: Warwickshire
Head Groundsman: Gary Barwell
Test History: 49 Tests; 26 home wins; 8 away wins; 15 draws
Last 10 Tests: 7 home wins; 1 away win; 2 draws
Last 10 tosses: 3 batted first (2 wins, 1 draw, 1 defeat); 7 bowled first (4 wins, 2 defeats, 1 draw)
Before the Riverside’s promotion to Test status, Warwickshire’s Edgbaston was the baby of the grounds on the regular rotation.
Test cricket was first staged at Edgbaston in 1902, but was an infrequent visitor in the ground’s early years: only four Tests were played there in the next quarter-century. It has fallen by the wayside in recent years again, with only one Test since 2012.
When the ‘Bullring’ gets going it can be tough for visiting teams, reflected in the fact that England have a better record here than at any other major venue.
A period of significant renovation at the end of the 1990s produced the new Cricket Centre and the £2million Hollies Stand. Further redevelopment plans were given the stamp of approval in early 2010, paving the way for a new Pavilion Stand equipped with plush new dressing rooms and media centre.
Floodlights were installed in 2011 for the first time, and the third Test between England and India was the first opportunity for Edgbaston to show off its fresh look on the international stage.
Some of the most memorable moments of recent cricketing history have taken place here. In 1994, Brian Lara amassed his world record 501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham, while in 1999 the ground hosted the famous tied World Cup semi-final between South Africa and Australia.
Then there was the 2005 epic, when Michael Kasprowicz gloved a short ball to Geraint Jones to hand England a thrilling two-run win in the greatest Ashes Test ever.
Last Time Out
Pakistan won the toss and put England under pressure initially, establishing a big lead having bowled England out for 297 and scored 400 themselves but the hosts would rally and the visitors would collapse.
Gary Ballance played a critical knock of 70 and shared a partnership with Moeen Ali (63) that spared England from being knocked over very cheaply as Sohail Khan tore through the England top order.
An Azhar Ali ton put Pakistan on course for victory, with England’s only positive from the second innings being that Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes wrapped the tail up pretty cheaply.
England replied with a string of gritty knocks from the top-order followed by a brilliant counter-attack led by Jonny Bairstow (83) and Moeen (86*). England declared on 445/6 to set Pakistan 343 runs to win.
Only Sami Aslam passed fifty in Pakistan’s victory bid as England’s five frontline bowlers each chipped in two wickets to lift the team to a 141 run win.
England’s Stuart Broad said of the ground: “Edgbaston feels like our Gabba so to speak, in the way the crowd roar behind us and I think some of our results reflect that.”
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said ahead of the clash last year: “We feel if we can get into them with the new ball we’ve got a real good chance. Clearly Cook and Root are the beacon of England batting at moment.”
Happy Hunting Ground
Jimmy Anderson needs five wickets to become England’s all-time leading wicket-taker at Edgbaston. He has 35 wickets in 8 Tests in Birmingham four behind Fred Trueman.
There aren’t many grounds in England where Alastair Cook doesn’t lead the way in the current England squad and his 613 runs at Edgbaston have come at 51.08 making it one of his best grounds in terms of consistency.
Courtney Walsh leads the all-time wicket-takers list for the Windies here with 19 scalps at just over 11 with none of the current crop of Test bowlers having played here.
Kieran Powell’s modest return of 24 from two innings in 2012 make him the leading run getter in the current squad by default.
The West Indies may want to touch up Shiv Chanderpaul for some advice, he scored 117 not out for Lancashire in the Pink ball round of the County Championship at Edgbaston.
Temperatures are not set to go above 23 degrees, making for chilly fielding, though it’s not expected to rain for long spells. But there will be some intermittent cloud cover for the swing bowlers.
Bowling first seems a solid bet however England have shown a reluctance to put the opposition in to bat in recent times, batting first in all three Tests against South Africa where they won the toss. The West Indies are unlikely to have the same reservations.
The new pink ball is likely to pose a threat but runs could be had once the ball gets softer.
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