Pitch report – The Adelaide Oval

Australia

We run the rule over the venue for the second Ashes Test, with a drop-in pitch has brought a slew of domestic draws – and will offer the fast bowlers plenty of bounce and carry. Unlike Brisbane, Adelaide is expected to offer the seamers only a modicum of bounce and pace – and spin will become a significant weapon.

<b>Established:</b> 1873<br><b>Capacity:</b> 32,500<br><b>Floodlights:</b> Yes<br><b>Ends:</b> City End, Cathedral End<br><b>Home Team:</b> South Australia<br><b>Head Groundsman:</b> Damian Hough<br><b>Test History:</b> 71 Tests: 35 home wins, 17 away wins, 19 draws<br><b>Last 10 Tests:</b> 5 home wins, 2 away wins, 3 draws<br><b>Last 10 Tosses:</b> 10 batted first (2 wins, 3 draws, 5 defeats)

<b>Overview</b><br>Set among gardens and trees and with the spire of St Peter's Cathedral peeking over the grandstands, the Adelaide Oval has a strangely English feel for an Australian cricket ground.

Recent upgrades to the Oval, including a large new grandstand which is part of a redevelopment plan that will boost capacity to 50,000, have been carried out with due respect for the older stands and the famous scoreboard – and it remains one of cricket's most picturesque grounds.

The ground also hosts Australian Rules Football, archery, athletics, baseball, cycling, hockey, lacrosse and soccer, among other lesser sports.

<b>Last Time Out</b><br>An obvious decision to bat first afforded Australia a huge total on the back of centuries from opener David Warner, the left-handed Michael Hussey and a fat double-ton from captain Michael Clarke.

All out for 388 in reply, South Africa then conceded a straightforward declaration – and required a veritable Tour de Force century from debutant Faf du Plessis to force a memorable draw. Du Plessis spent almost eight hours at the crease, sapping a tired host attack to the nth degree.

Wickets, throughout, were relatively evenly shared – though seamers ultimately took the edge. The pitch, of course, has since been changed – and is likely to offer the faster men even more assistance this week.

<b>They Said</b><br>"We are planning to have something early. From our end, we are trying to get as much pace and bounce as we can. We will look at leaving a little grass on it just to assist with making it a competitive wicket." – curator <b>Damian Hough</b>.

"Adelaide is always tough. That's the job of playing Test matches there. They usually go to late in the fifth day to get a result. It's always a nice challenge, and a nice ground to play on. It's a beautiful place to play." – Australian fast bowler <b>Peter Siddle</b>.

"I'll still come in with the short ball because it is up and down in Adelaide, so it makes it even harder I think. At the Gabba, you know it's a true bounce. But Adelaide is not true bounce. So I think that makes it a lot more difficult to play the short ball, and obviously reverse swing comes in to it as well." – Australia fast bowler <b>Mitchell Johnson</b>.

"I've learned a fair amount playing a few Test matches down in Adelaide. I've learned a fair amount about my game and what I need to do and what I need to do to get better. Fingers crossed there's a little bit more spin down there and we'll see how we go. Steven Smith, Michael Clarke – they're pretty capable of bowling a few overs. In saying that if the bowling group does our job, the part-time spinners won't have to bowl." – Australian spinner <b>Nathan Lyon</b>.

"We will see a pitch that very closely resembles what we have come to expect of an Adelaide Test match over previous years. It is something we have been mindful of all the way through the redevelopment, not trying to change the character and the nature of the game that is played at Adelaide Oval." – South Australian Cricket Association chief executive <b>Keith Bradshaw</b>.

"Adelaide is a place you need to score big first-innings runs and we'll be aiming to do what we did last time and we're very focused on that." – England all-rounder <b>Stuart Broad</b>.

"It puts us another step closer to completing the transformation of Adelaide Oval into a world-class stadium with outstanding facilities. Recreating the hallowed turf is a significant milestone and it's fantastic to see the venue taking shape as we look towards a very exciting future at Adelaide Oval." – Adelaide Oval CEO <b>Andrew Daniels</b>.

"Since last December, the seeds have been sown for a new Adelaide Oval playing surface to debut for the upcoming Ashes series. Laser levelling and new drainage has been completed and it is now time for those green shoots to take their pride of place on the redeveloped Oval." – Minister for transport and infrastructure <b>Tom Koutsantonis</b>.

<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>Captain <b>Michael Clarke</b> is head and shoulders above the rest on the back of a ground average of a whopping 100.81 after 13 innings. This exorbitant statistic has, of course, been inflated by last year's double-century against the Proteas.

The left-handed <b>David Warner</b> can take heart from that fixture too, having scored a cavalier 119 on day one. Warner and Clarke, in fact, are the only surviving batsmen from 12 months ago. The retired Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey and the ousted Ed Cowan, Matthew Wade and Rob Quiney have all since departed.

Lef-arm seamer <b>Mitchell Johnson's</b> Adelaide record makes for impressive reading on the back of 19 wickets in three Tests. A venue average of 23.78 is some six runs fewer than his career aggregate of 30.11.

Spinner <b>Nathan Lyon</b> bowled a whopping 94 overs, taking five wickets across both innings, against the South Africans. Perhaps there is merit in his suggestion the part-timers will bowl, too, as Ponting, Quiney, Clarke and Warner all turned their arms over in 2012.

England's last visit in December 2010 brought a big century for opener <b>Alastair Cook</b> and <i>that</i> commanding 227 from the belligerent <b>Kevin Pietersen</b>. Spinner <b>Graeme Swann</b> and fast bowler <b>James Anderson</b>, meanwhile, shared 13 of the 20 wickets.

<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>Scattered thundershowers are likely to mar preparation, and perhaps even day one, before partly cloudy conditions give way to mostly sunny skies. By no means a scorcher, temperatures will hang around 25 degrees Celsius.

<b>Conclusion</b><br>All previous deductions and summations of the Adelaide Oval pitch have largely been rendered null and void by the recent arrival of drop-in pitches. Grown elsewhere and transported to the venue, the decks have since seen three high-scoring draws at domestic level.

The essence of the deck remains, though, as hard and quick conditions are likely to play right into the hands of the fast bowlers. Lyon has hoped for more turn, while Johnson is eager to assess potential inconsistencies in bounce, while opting to bat first is still the status quo.

The hosts are not likely to tamper with a winning combination, despite characteristic suggestion that one or two of the frontline seamers be rested. Now, with a crucial series lead, across fitting conditions, is the time to cash in with the first-choice picks.

England, meanwhile, have indirectly been allowed the chance to bolster the bowling ranks by batsman Jonathan Trott's departure. The

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