Pitch report – Rose Bowl, Southampton
A look at the venue and conditions for the fourth Test between England and India, which will get underway on Thursday in Hampshire.
Ends: Pavilion End, Northern End
Home Team: Hampshire
Head Groundsman: Nigel Gray
Test History: 2 Tests; 1 win, 1 draw
Tosses: 1 bowled first, 1 batted first
Long snubbed as a Test ground, the Rose Bowl’s day finally came on 11 April 2008, when the Cardiff-favouring ECB eventually buckled to grant the stadium its maiden five-dayer in 2011.
For their appointment, the Hampshire club took 35 million pounds of generosity from chairman Rob Bransgrove and 30-odd million more from the local council to inject life into a facility marred by traffic problems and lack of easy access for spectators.
Since then, the Rose Bowl (not to be confused with the outdoor athletic stadium in Pasadena, California of the same name) has welcomed the award-winning architecture of Michael Hopkins & Partner, entirely responsible for a circular-amphitheatre feel and prolific three-storey pavilion with canopied roof, to gradually host enough ODIs to tide them over and toasted ample domestic Twenty20 matches to pay the bills.
Bransgrove’s big spend and Eastleigh borough’s fork-out has afforded the ground – formerly known as West End – more covered stands, an indoor training camp, non-cricket function halls and all the other trimmings expected of a world-class venue. One can even have a wedding or annual staff dinner here.
Last Time Out
Andrew Strauss opted to bowl first in the Rose Bowl’s drawn maiden Test, but Alastair Cook wisely chose to bat three years later. He watched from the pavilion as a characteristically quick half-century from Jos Buttler capped big tons from Gary Ballance and Ian Bell, before James Anderson’s five-for afforded Cook the chance to insist India follow on. Cook didn’t do so – and instead rattled out a hefty second-innings lead alongside fellow half-centurion Joe Root. The declaration came – and Moeen Ali was at hand for a six-for to reduced the Indians to a 266-run defeat relatively early on the fifth day.
They Said “It’s firm, there is a covering of grass on it, so it is looking like it will be a good pitch to me. I’m confident we’ve produced a good pitch. But you never can really tell until you start playing on it. But there is no reason to think it won’t be very good. We want it to have a little bit of assistance for the seamers if possible rather than being a flat road. We want a decent balance between bat and ball.” – Gray.
“Every international fixture is, for us, an audition. I will never give up my pursuit for equal recognition with other international and Test match stadia. The Ageas Bowl will be here for many years after 2024 and, as long as Test match cricket remains a viable spectator sport, we will push for it to host these fixtures as well as other major cricket events.” – Bransgrove.
Happy Hunting Ground
Cook’s twin half-centuries, Buttler’s cavalier cameo and Anderson and Al’s telling hauls are the highlights of England’s experience and understanding of the conditions at this relatively new Test venue, while India’s Ajinkya Rahane also scored a couple of half-tons here four years ago.
High humidity levels are predicted for the couple of days preceding the match, while a nominal 10 percent chance of rain is forecast for Thursday through Sunday. Temperature lows of 13 degrees Celsius and highs of 25 are in store. All in all, pretty comfortable conditions for players and spectators alike.
This venue last hosted a first-class fixture in late June, when Hampshire and Yorkshire played out a County Championship Division One draw. Their were five-fors for two fast bowlers, including South Africa’s Dale Steyn.
Spinner Ollie Rayner grafted hard – and his late four wickets didn’t necessarily come naturally. Going on Rayner’s showing and Ali’s success in 2014, the slow bowlers will only really prove penetrative in the third and fourth innings.
Locals expect a rather green pitch to settle down and prove good for batting. Not asked to produce a five-day surface since 2014, curator Gray has his work cut out for him – and the team batting second might look to do so just once.
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