Pitch Report: Old Trafford
Ends: Stretford End, Brian Statham End
Home Team: Lancashire
Test History: 77 Tests; 27 home wins, 14 away wins, 36 draws
Last 10 Tests: 8 home wins, 2 draws
Last 10 Tosses: 10 batted first (7 wins, 2 draws, 1 defeat)
From Jim Laker’s 19 for 90 against the Aussies and Dominic Cork’s sensational hat-trick against the Windies to Shane Warne’s so-called ‘Ball of the Century’ to Mike Gatting, England’s second-oldest Test ground has played host to many memorable occasions over its rich history.
The recipient of a major makeover, a move largely prompted by its failure to crack the nod ahead of Swalec Stadium, Cardiff for a 2009 Ashes clash, Old Trafford broke a three-year hiatus from Test cricket in 2013.
The Manchester marvel has, indeed, undergone considerable transformation. An overhaul of the pitch, the erection of permanent floodlights, thousands more seats in state-of-the-art stands, upgraded media and player facilities and the standardisation of the ground’s look and feel via matching scoreboard and video screens are just some of the highlights.
Last Time Out
We were treated to the very best of Joe Root, who smashed 254 against Pakistan after England batted first with then skipper Alastair Cook chipping in with a ton of his own and an unbeaten second innings fifty.
Pakistan were torn apart by the England seam bowling attack with Chris Woakes picking up 4/67 as they slumped to 198 all out in response to England’s 589/8 declared.
England declined to enforce the follow on instead racing to 173/1 with Root and Cook recording unbeaten fifties before the declaration came.
Pakistan could only manage 234 in their second innings with Woakes again the pick of the England bowlers.
India skipper at the time MS Dhoni after defeat here: “Once you see off the first 20-25 overs, when the ball is hard and new, it gets relatively better for the batsmen to bat. You just have to pull the bowler towards you rather than going outside off and looking for the big shot. If you can look to push them to bowl to you actually you can control the swing much better and you can play your strokes. That is something to an extent we lacked.”
Pakistan fielding coach Steve Rixon said ahead of Pakistan’s clash with England: “This pitch will suit both forms of our attack. I think our seamers will do very well here with the extra bounce. They had a role to play in the last game, but probably didn’t start as well as they would have liked.”
Happy Hunting Ground
Of the current players in the England squad, England skipper Alastair Cook has the best record here, having scored three tons and three fifties in seven Tests, averaging 62.90. Ian Bell, not in the frame right now though, averages nearly 80 across seven Tests.
James Anderson is the best of the current bowlers, with 21 wickets in six Tests which is unsurprising considering this is his home ground.
South Africa have not played at Old Trafford since 1998 therefore none of the current crop of players have any record at the venue.
There is rain around for the duration of the Test and delays as well as the wet ball problem can be expected.
England have not lost here since 2001, against Pakistan, and the toss-winning skipper almost always opts to bat first. You have to contend with a swinging ball early on, but you don’t want to bat last on this deck, which tends to help the spinners from day three onwards. Something for everyone in this deck, though batting is trickier than at many other grounds.
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