Australian greats Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting have weighed in on the debate over the lifeless Lord’s wicket, with Australia mounting a monster first innings total.
A day after England paceman Jimmy Anderson, having toiled without reward as Australia amassed 1-337, bemoaned the influence the toss can have on such a docile wicket, the Test champions had their say.
Warne took the view that England were so fearful of Australian spearhead Mitchell Johnson, who rattled cages and claimed an incredible 37 wickets during the Ashes whitewash 18 months ago, that they’d demanded dead wickets from groundsmen.
Those who watched the slow, flat deck served up in Cardiff last week may be inclined to agree with the spin king.
“England should have thought ‘whatever the groundsman wants to prepare, let him prepare it’,” he said in commentary.
“(They should say) ‘Don’t start ordering pitches – bring it on’.
“They’re obviously so worried about the way Mitchell Johnson bowled in Australia, they’ve decided to start preparing pitches to negate Mitchell Johnson.”
Former Test captain Ponting pointed to the difference in quality between the Ashes wicket and that served up in last month’s Test series against New Zealand, which produced a memorable 124-run victory to the home side.
Ponting worried about the influence which could be wielded over groundsmen the world over.
“It sounds like the administrators or team captains or coaches might be getting to the groundsmen and asking for certain pitch conditions,” he wrote in a column for ESPNCricInfo.
“I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think that should ever happen in the game.
“There’s such a thing as home ground advantage but I think that’s taking it a little bit too far.
“What we saw (on Thursday) is a very uncharacteristic Lord’s pitch.
“You think back a month ago to that Test match against New Zealand, there was the most runs scored ever in a Test match at Lord’s, it went into the last day, it ended up being a terrific Test match.
“For me today the balance between bat versus ball was nowhere near what it needs to be for a Test match.”
After play on Thursday, Anderson lamented losing such a crucial toss.
“You don’t want the toss to make such an impact in a game,” he said.
Chris Rogers, who finished with a career-best 173, captains Middlesex and admitted it was more docile than most decks at his adopted home.
“I don’t think it’s a typical county wicket at all, there’s usually a bit more in it,” Rogers said.