England’s Cook dismisses Melbourne pitch switch

England opener Alastair Cook on Tuesday played down a growing row over Australia’s move to change pitches for the vital Melbourne Ashes Test, saying they were simply exploiting “home advantage”.

Cook shrugged “you’d expect everyone to do it”, after news that the Melbourne Cricket Ground was preparing a green pitch that will favour Australia’s pace attack and offer little turn for England spinner Graeme Swann.

“That is the beauty of home conditions, isn’t it?” Cook told journalists in Perth, before the team’s departure for Melbourne.

“You can prepare a pitch to hopefully suit the home side. That is what we try and do in England in certain cases. There is no reason I would expect Australia not to do it.”

British media have accused the Melbourne Cricket Ground of changing pitches after Australia’s emphatic 267-run win on Perth’s green deck levelled the series at 1-1 with two games to play.


Early decision
But Melbourne Cricket Club chief executive Stephen Gough said the decision to use the alternative pitch was made before the Perth Test started last week.

“I’m glad we made the decision early,” Gough told the Australian newspaper.

“I’d hate to think if we released it after Perth whether anyone would think we were up to something. I’m not surprised with the conspiracy theory, given the success in Perth.”

The Ashes, cricket’s oldest and most anticipated international series, has a history of pitch intrigue after The Oval prepared a surprisingly dry track for the decisive match of the 2009 series, which England won.

“The pitch is out of our control and that’s the beauty of cricket, that conditions change from week to week and it’s how you adapt to those that determines how successful you are,” Cook said.

“The challenge is making sure we are ready and adapted to those conditions.”

‘Cricket gods are smiling’
Cook also backed England to bounce back quickly from their disappointment in Perth, when their previously dominant form wilted in the face of a resurgent Australia.

The Essex left-hander scored a ground-record 235 not out in Brisbane and 148 in Adelaide before succumbing for just 32 and 13 in the third Test as Australia’s fast bowlers ran riot.

“All the work we have done so far on this tour has given us a lot of confidence,” Cook said. “We scored runs heavily against the bowling attack before and we can do it again. We have to trust ourselves.”

Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland was confident of attracting 91 000 fans when the game starts on Boxing Day, setting a new record attendance for a single day of Test cricket.

A total of 90 800 attended the same venue in February 1961 for the fifth Test against West Indies.

“The cricket gods are smiling on us all,” Sutherland told journalists in Melbourne.

“I did for a moment think that there was be a possibility that we would come into this and the Ashes would already be decided,” he added. — Sapa-AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

Pandemic hobbles learners’ futures

South African schools have yet to open for the 2021 academic year and experts are sounding the alarm over lost learning time, especially in the crucial grades one and 12

More top stories

Egypt, Seychelles get first jabs

The two countries have rolled out China’s Sinopharm vaccine, but data issues are likely to keep some countries from doing the same

Fashion’s future is bricks and clicks

Lockdown forced reluctant South African clothing retail stores online: although foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores remains important in a mall culture like ours, the secret to success is innovation

What the Biden presidency may mean for Africa

The new US administration has an interest and much expertise in Africa. But given the scale of the priorities the administration faces, Africa must not expect to feature too prominently

Zuma, Zondo play the waiting game

The former president says he will talk once the courts have ruled, but the head of the state capture inquiry appears resigned to letting the clock run out as the commission's deadline nears
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…