Have a gander at the ‘Gabba

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Established: 1895
Capacity: 40,000
Floodlights: Yes
Ends: Stanley Street End, Vulture Street End
Home Team: Queensland
Head Groundsman: Kevin Mitchell Junior
Test History: 57 Tests; 35 home wins; 8 away wins; 13 draws; 1 tie
Last 10 Tests: 8 home wins; 2 draws
Last 10 tosses: 8 batted first (3 wins, 3 defeats, 1 draw); 2 bowled first (1 draw, 1 defeat)

Overview

The Brisbane Cricket ground, situated in the Woollongabba area of Brisbane and universally known by its nickname the 'Gabba, has been extensively redeveloped over recent years.

The distinctive grassy banks have been replaced with modern stands and, while some of the ground's charm may have been lost in the work, the 'Gabba now offers top-class facilities for players and spectators alike.

The 'Gabba's most famous moment occurred in 1960/1, when it hosted the legendary tied Test between Australia and West Indies.

Traditionally, the 'Gabba wicket has been a batting heaven. The track is known for staying flat and true for the duration of the five days of a Test match. The fast bowlers may get slight assistance early on, but that is the most they can expect to receive.

There is often a little more there for the spinners, with the extra bounce as likely to hoodwink the batsman as turn.

The current groundsman, Kevin Mitchell Junior, took over the role from Kevin Senior and continues to produce consistently fair tracks that offer something for everyone. But especially, it seems, Australians; the home side haven't lost at 'Fortress Gabba' in 24 Tests stretching back to 1988.

That formidable record may be one of the reasons the ground has established itself as the traditional host for the first Test of the Australian summer. The playing area, meanwhile, is quite expansive – at 171 metres long and 151 metres wide.

Last Time Out

The most recent match here was nearly a year ago, when Australia beat India by four wickets late on day four. India won the toss and opted to bat, as is usually the case here, and recorded a decent 408 all out.

A century from Murali Vijay and 81 from Ajinkya Rahane was the key to that tally, while Josh Hazlewood recorded a five-fer and Nathan Lyon bagged three wickets as the deck started to turn early.

The hosts replied with 505 all out, with Steve Smith recording a ton and the tail wagging hard. Mitchells Johnson and Starc both bagged half tons, leaving India's bowlers frustrated after a mini collapse.

India then suffered a calamity of their own, all out for 224. Pacemen Johnson, Starc, and Hazlewood were all in the wickets as the deck continued to assist, and reverse swing coming into play.

As a result, the hosts only needed 128 to win, and while they nearly messed it up by losing six wickets, Chris Rogers' half century made sure they go home inside 24 overs and with a day to spare.

They Said

Curator Kevin Mitchell: "There will be healthy bounce and that's what we're striving for; as much bounce and pace as we can get out of it.

"There will certainly be some life in it early and then I think it will just continue. There will be something there for the bowlers with the new ball for the rest of the match.

"Those really hot days last year buggered up the bowlers but the wicket was fairly typical. This will be very similar to that one."

Happy Hunting Ground

Given the relative inexperience of the current Aussie side, it's no surprise than none have a special track record here. Of the current team, David Warner is the best of the batsmen, though he averages under 38 in four Tests here.

None of the New Zealand batsmen feature on the list, which is not surprising given the drubbing they received the last time they played here, in 2011. None of their bowlers did particularly well either.

The home bowlers are led by Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Lyon here, as both average 23. Johnson has 30 wickets in six Tests, including two five-fers, while Lyon has bagged 20 scalps in four games.

Weather Forecast

Interestingly, unlike last year, this Test could see some rain to combat the heat. Each day has a 50 to 70 percent chance of rain, with cloud cover forecast for each day. What this will do for the bowlers is up in the air, but could likely see more swing for the pacemen, and less deterioration of the deck.

Conclusion

The 'Gabba is a fortress for Australia, as they have not lost here since 1988 when they faced those fearsome West Indians. The deck is suited to pace, so we can expect a strong pace attack, with Josh Hazlewood brought in for his tall bounce.

Batsmen must not be disheartened though, because while bowling gets a bit harder as the days progress, batting stays relatively the same. If you get settled, and don't play silly shots, a ton could be on the cards.

It's unlikely the spinners will bag a dozen wickets here, as the pitch does not tend to break up appreciably, though with the temperatures high, a crack or two could come into play.

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