Melbourne: Ashes might be almost a year away, but verbal volleys have begun with Australian coach Darren Lehmann challenging England to produce the same green, seaming pitches they used to beat India when his team visits the ‘Old Blighty’ next year.
“The wickets were quite sporting over there in the last couple of Test matches. The Oval – I can’t remember that sort of wicket being produced for an Australian Test match in the last 50 or 60 years, so that’s interesting in itself,” Lehmann said when asked about the just-concluded Test match between India and England.
“From my point of view, I am looking for those sort of wickets next year,” he was quoted as saying by The Australian.
The Australia coach said he hopes that when the next series begins, Australia’s bowlers will have the same green tops produced that undid India in the five-match series that concluded on Sunday.
“Can we get the same next summer please? RT @HomeOfCricket: Here it is. The Lord’s pitch. What do you think? #EngvInd,” Cricket Australia had tweeted last month along with a video clip of the pitch of the Lord’s Test match between India and England.
During the 2013 Ashes series in England, Australia’s batsmen and bowlers struggled on pitches that were similar to the dustbowls of Asia.
English cricket chiefs and curators said new drainage systems had sucked the moisture from the grounds and there was nothing to be done. No amount of watering would fix the problem, they claimed.
It was only a coincidence that the hosts considered spinner Graeme Swann their biggest threat, but no surprise he was the highest wicket-taker (26) in the series.
However, when England were lucky to draw the first Test at Trent Bridge against India on a similar dry wicket early in the most recent series, the groundsman was forced to apologise for getting his preparation so wrong.
England’s curators at the next venues heard the call, found their hoses and grew grass where previously little had been seen when Australians come calling.
India did not win another game after the second Test at Lord’s as James Anderson and fellow quicks swung, bounced and seamed their way through the startled batsmen.
The visitors were humbled inside three days in the fourth and fifth Tests of the series, The Oval producing a green top that so flummoxed the Indians they lost by an innings and 244 runs.
Lehmann was speaking at a squad camp in Brisbane ahead of the team’s departure for Zimbabwe for a tri-series of one-day matches that also includes South Africa.
Australia regained the Ashes for the first time since 2006-07 in the back-to back Ashes series in 2013, winning it 5-0. The series came after Australians were humbled 3-0 in England earlier in the year.