Spinning pitch unlikely: Cardiff curator

The Sophia Gardens curator is hoping he’s set the stage for another thrilling Ashes opener, but with a bit more on offer for pacemen than 2009.

The Cardiff venue hosted its first Test six years ago, when Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar hung on for an unlikely draw in a dramatic start to the series.

Some 1361 runs were scored on that strip, spread across only three innings.

“We hope this one will have a little more pace, but we hope that we see an equally good game of cricket,” curator Keith Exton said on Sunday.

“This track had two T20 games on it last year and the ball went through well.

“It will start off as a classic Test pitch but if we have a lot of dry heat then the characteristics could change as the game progresses.”

Nathan Lyon may have to bank more on bounce than turn if he’s to play a major role in the match.

“We would need to have extremely high temperatures for it to become a spinning pitch,” Exton said.

“Which is very unlikely, but once the toss takes place, everything is out of our hands.

“If it stays cloudy and overcast, whatever you start with you’ll probably finish with.”

Showers are predicted for the next few days, but they’re expected to clear later in the week.

Exton noted the weather hadn’t been a factor in his preparation yet.

“Dry conditions take the guess work out, so we’re very much in control which is all that a groundsman can wish for,” he said.

Debate has swirled in England about what sort of wickets should and will be produced for the series.

Exton explained his permit was simple: produce a good cricket wicket.

“We’d like a pitch that’s a good competition between bat and ball,” he said.

“We’ve got the threat of the Australian attack, we want to see them but we don’t want to deliver something that plays into their hands.

“(But) we don’t want a flat road where 600 plays 500 and it’s a boring draw.”

The series starts at 8pm AEST on Wednesday.

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