Pitch Report: The Oracle into The Oval
Ends: Pavilion End, Vauxhall End
Home Team: Surrey
Head Groundsman: Lee Fortis
Test Record: 100 Tests (41 home wins, 22 away wins, 37 draws)
Last 10 Tests: 5 home wins, 4 away wins, 1 draw
Last 10 Tosses: 8 batted (3 wins, 1 draw, 4 losses) 2 bowled (1 win, 1 loss)
The Oval is a venue blessed with a rich sporting history, which includes playing host to the first Test match on English soil, a game in which WG Grace scored a century in England’s win against Australia in 1880. Significantly it was at The Oval that the legend of the Ashes was born and the great Sir Donald Bradman played his final Test innings at the ground.
Apart from cricket, the venue was also host to the first official international football match, as well as the first rugby international in England in the early 1870s. Another notable fixture was the first ever FA Cup final in 1872.
The venue was the birthplace of the Ashes and has since played host to some dramatic proceedings. From the 1968 Ashes Test when supporters pitched in to mop a sodden ground in time for Derek Underwood to bowl the Australians out to square the series, to Kevin Pietersen’s match-saving – and series-winning – 158 in 2005 against the same opposition, The Oval’s history is sparkled with magical moments and memories.
It too was the scene of Inzamam-ul-Haq and company’s defiant walk-off in 2006 after umpire Darrell Hair’s accusations broke the proverbial camel’s back.
A spectacular new stand to complement the huge pavilion has made for a more pleasant viewing experience, and the famous old ground continues to be developed, with floodlights the latest new arrival in South London. The most well known feature, of course, is the gasometers to the east of the ground.
Last Time Out
Ben Stokes was at his brilliant best with the bat, clobbering a counter-attacking century in England’s first innings after another faltering top-order effort had followed Joe Root winning the toss and electing to bat first against South Africa. England made 353 all out.
Toby Roland-Jones was the hero with the ball taking a five-fer, to tear through the Proteas top order and a rearguard action from Temba Bavuma and Kagiso Rabada was not enough to keep the tourists in the game as they slumped to 175 all out.
Fifties from Joe Root, Tom Westley and Jonny Bairstow powered England to 313 for 8 and left the Proteas chasing 492 runs to win.
A Dean Elgar century showed great fight but ultimately the Proteas were bowled out for 252 to suffer a 239 run loss with Moeen Ali ending the pick of the fourth innings bowlers with figures of 4/45.
England coach Trevor Bayliss on the pitch ahead of the Test against Pakistan in 2016: “We saw last year at The Oval, the wicket had a bit in it for everyone. Lyon bowled very well there, got some spin and bounce.
“I think having a leg-spinner will help when the wicket is turning and it will help us knock over the tail.”
Happy Hunting Ground
Alastair Cook needs just one run to go to 1,ooo Test runs at the Oval, only Len Hutton and Graham Gooch have more at the venue.
Rahul Dravid was India’s all-time best scorer at the Oval in Tests while in the current group Dinesh Karthik’s 99 runs at the venue in 2007 make him the leader of the pack.
James Anderson’s tally of 39 wickets at the Oval leaves him 13 behind the record for the venue held by Ian Botham.
Ishant Sharma has five Test scalps at the Oval and heads the list of wicket-takers at the venue in the current India squad.
The forecast looks pretty good for the second week of September in London with rain unlikely and temperatures mild to warm.
The winner of the toss should bat first as this seems the best way to secure victory at the Oval with the surface usually starting out very good for batting.
With the series already decided the hosts may want to take some extra grass off to help them prepare for the turning tracks expected in their winter tour to Sri Lanka.
This could be the highest-scoring Test of the series with the Oval traditonally England’s most batting friendly Test venue.
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