Andrew Strauss laid into the Kensington Oval pitch and criticised it for producing a dull draw in the fourth Test against West Indies which ended on Monday.
The England captain felt betrayed by the flat nature of the pitch which produced 1,628 runs – including five hundreds and seven half-centuries – for 15 wickets.
“The pitch remained incredibly flat throughout the game,” he said. “If anything,it was flatter (Monday) than any other day. As cricketers,you are looking forward to see a pitch that deteriorates and we did not see that in this game. As a result,the match ended up being a really boring draw which no one wants to see.
“Generally,if you cannot force a result,you want to have a pretty tight tussle like we had at the Antigua Recreation Ground. Clearly that would have been very difficult to do on this pitch.”
England felt confident they had the match in the bag,when they posted 600 for six in their first innings with Strauss himself leading the way with 142.
But Ramnaresh Sarwan responded with his highest Test score of 291 and Denesh Ramdin with his maiden Test hundred of 166 to lead the West Indies’ reply of 749 for nine declared.
Then Alastair Cook scored a career-best 139 – his first hundred in 16 Tests spread over 14 months – to lift England to 279 for two in their second innings to earn the stalemate.
“To a certain extent,you go on what you hear from the ground-staff and various other people that have experienced the pitch,” Strauss said.
“The funny thing is that with the new ball it flew through a little bit,but once the ball got older,the ball sat on the pitch,so I was surprised it did not have more pace and bounce.”
England off-spinner Graeme Swann,playing his fourth Test,was the most successful bowler on the pitch. In the West Indies’ first innings,he collected five wickets for the second straight match and second time in his brief career.
But Strauss believes it would have been hard work for a bowler of any type and with any amount of experience. “I don’t know if better bowling would have got wickets on that pitch,” he said. “We’ve had eight,nine,or 10 bowlers bowling on it,and nobody looked particularly threatening. I would not blame the quality of the bowling by any means. From the England bowlers’ point-of-view,I think that they bowled exceptionally well. I think that the way they continued bowling the right sort of areas,session after session after session,was a testament to the control they have.”
Though critical,Strauss feels pitches like Kensington Oval over the last five days do have its benefits. “I think all the wickets we have played on this winter (in India and the Caribbean),both sides have struggled to take 10 wickets,so it’s not something unique to our side. But clearly you need to find a way,and I thought our bowlers innovated in this game with a lot of variations like cutters and slower balls and bouncers,and over the wicket and around the wicket,so the bowlers are definitely thinking.
West Indies captain Chris Gayle obviously had few complaints about the pitch. “There was only one way it could have gone in this Test match and that was a draw based on the amount of runs scored from both teams,” he said.
“It was a flat deck,but we really had to apply ourselves in the batting department after being in the outfield for (close to two days). No one knew the pitch would have been so good,but we have learned to play on what we get. It was really,really flat,and a pitch on which bowlers had to toil.”
With a chuckle Gayle said: “We never asked for any type of pitch here. Over the years,whatever we have asked for in the Caribbean,we do not get anyway. Whatever is put in front of us,we have to work with it. But we certainly did not want a pitch like this.”