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Edgbaston expectations

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 26-07-2015 skysports.com

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England and Australia head to the third Investec Test at Edgbaston with the Ashes series tied at 1-1. 

After the slow-mo surfaces at Cardiff and Lord's, all eyes will be on the pitch at the start of the contest on Wednesday.

So what can we expect from the Edgbaston surface?

A pitch made to order?

After England’s landslide defeat at Lord’s, head coach Trevor Bayliss said the unresponsive pitch had played into the hands of Australia rather than the hosts, despite the fact that many believe such surfaces have been requested by an England side desperate to negate the threat of Australia’s pace bowlers, and Mitchell Johnson in particular.

Alastair Cook says that is not the case and has put traditional 'English' pitches on his wish-list for the remaining venues. So expect an Edgbaston pitch with a greener tinge, holding the promise of some seam movement.

Edgbaston in 2015…

It has been a results pitch in the main, delivering an even contest with bat and ball in the County Championship this season. There have been two draws in the six matches but Warwickshire’s stalemate against Sussex a month ago will be a concern, as 601-6 declared played 612-6.

Apart from that anomaly though, 400 has only been passed on one other occasion. And there aren’t too many demons in the pitch either, with Warwickshire 69 all out against Yorkshire in early June one of only two occasions a team has scored ynder 150.

Who will benefit – seam or spin?

Generally the pitch is quite dry so suits spin, especially later in the match. Just look at the fact that Warwickshire have recruited New Zealand off-spinner Jeetan Patel as their overseas player in every season since 2009, except 2010. In that time he has taken 185 first-class wickets at an average of just 27.12.

And don’t forget the King of Spain, Ashley Giles, plied his trade down in Edgbaston. Not to say it’s a place where seamers struggle though – Ryan Sidebottom took 11 wickets in a match here this year, and Craig Overton took 7-86 on Somerset’s recent visit. But Patel took 9-136 in that same game, so might England consider two spinners?

England’s recent record?

England don’t really know what to expect from Edgbaston in all honesty. There has been no Test there in the last two years and the last one England played there was hardly a classic – a rain-affected draw against West Indies in which England rested their senior bowlers having already sealed a series win.

But delve a little deeper and you’ll see Edgbaston is a very happy hunting ground for England, winning 24 of the 47 Tests played there, including six of the last 10. Plus, Alastair Cook will have very fond memories from scoring 294 against India in 2011, and more recently – although in ODIs – Joe Root and Jos Buttler both hit hundreds as England smashed 400 in their win over New Zealand at Edgbaston earlier this summer.

In Ashes Tests?

You can’t look past 2005 when a Freddie Flintoff-inspired England beat Australia by two runs, on their way to winning back the Ashes for the first time in 18 years. Australia’s last win here was also the last time they won the Ashes on English soil in 2001, with Adam Gilchrist smashing 152 from just 143 balls in his first Ashes Test.

Some other notable performances include Nasser Hussain’s double-hundred in 1997, and Graeme Onions’ two wickets in two balls in the drawn Test match in 2009 when these two teams last met in the Midlands.

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