A glance at the Gabba
Ends: Stanley Street End, Vulture Street End
Home Team: Queensland
Head Groundsman: Kevin Mitchell Junior
Test History: 58 Tests; 36 home wins; 8 away wins; 13 draws; 1 tie
Last 10 Tests: 8 home wins; 2 draws
Last 10 tosses: 9 batted first (4 wins, 3 defeats, 1 draw); 1 bowled first (1 draw)
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 although this year is an exception.
The playing area, meanwhile, is quite expansive – at 171 metres long and 151 metres wide.
This Test will be the first the Gabba hosts under lights
Last Time Out
Centuries in both innings from David Warner set up a big win over New Zealand last November.
Australia piled on the runs in the first innings with Steve Smith’s 48 the lowest score as the hosts scored 556 for 4 declared.
Kane Williamson’s 146 couldn’t get New Zealand close as they were bowled out for 317 with Mitchell Starc taking 4 for 57.
Australia declined to enforce the follow on and Warner and opening partner Joe Burns put on 237 for the first wicket with Australia declaring once they reached 264.
New Zealand could only last 88.3 overs as they fell to a 208 run defeat with Nathan Lyon taking 3 for 63.
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said in the lead up: “It will be interesting the amount of grass on the wicket. After dark it certainly did a bit more in Cairns. [Gabba curator] Kevin Mitchell was up in Cairns and he said the amount of grass left on the wicket was going to be pretty similar to the grass he’ll leave on here.”
Spinner Lyon wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald: “I had a chat to Kevin and it looks a belter of a wicket. I don’t think being a day-night Test will make any difference.”
Happy Hunting Ground
Spinner Nathan Lyon leads the wicket-taking standings at the Gabba for players currently in the squad having claimed 24 victims in five Tests.
David Warner has scored 506 runs at the ‘Gabba including three centuries and leads the runscoring for the current crop.
Pakistan haven’t played at the Gabba since 1999.
Apart from the possibility of showers on Sunday the forecast looks pretty good with temperatures expected to be warm.
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, and both sides sport decent pace attacks making this a mouthwatering contest.
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.
How the pink ball will play at the ‘Gabba is something of an unknown but the same principles should apply.
It’s unlikely the spinners will bag a dozen wickets here, as the pitch does not tend to break up appreciably, though the bounce may bring Lyon and Yasir Shah some joy.
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