Pitch report: The Oval

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Established: 1845
Capacity: 23,500
Floodlights: Yes
Ends: Pavilion End, Vauxhall End
Home Team: Surrey
Head Groundsman: Lee Fortis
Test Record: 99 Tests (40 home wins, 22 away wins, 37 draws)
Last 10 Tests: 4 home wins, 4 away wins, 2 draws
Last 10 Tosses: 8 batted (2 wins, 2 draws, 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

Younis Khan happened the last time England were at the Oval decked out in white.

A massive double ton from Younis Khan was the difference between the two sides with Pakistan recording a ten wicket victory with ease.

England’s top order didn’t turn up in either innings though Moeen Ali pulled them out of the fire with a century in the first and Jonny Bairstow knocked 81 the next time out but their efforts were in vain.

They Said

England coach Trevor Bayliss on the pitch ahead of the Test against Pakistan: “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.”

England’s leg spinner Adil Rashid didn’t play but Pakistan’s, Yasir Shah picked up a five-fer in the second innings.

Happy Hunting Ground

Of the current crop of England Batsman Alastair Cook has the best record at the Oval having scored 904 runs at the venue in eleven Tests.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad are predictably England’s best current bowler’s at the venue having taken 36 and 26 wickets here respectively.

Moeen Ali deserves a mention for his hundred at the Oval last year.

His bearded counterpart Hashim Amlahas scored 423 runs at the Oval including his massive 311 not out from 2012.

Vernon Philander is the only South Africa bowler to have played at the Oval in the current group he earned a modest return of two wickets in 2012.

Weather Forecast

There is a possibility of light showers on day on and two but the rest of the Test looks set to be warm, mild and dry.

Conclusion

The Oval should produce a relatively even contest between bat and ball, with overcast to partly cloudy conditions expected on day one the team that wins the toss may be tempted to bowl.

Tosses at the Oval have in recent times proved to be good to lose with only three out of the last ten toss winners going on to clinch the match.

The first couple of days could prove vital with the pitch expected to get easier to bat on.

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