Ricky Ponting said “the balance between bat versus ball was nowhere near what it needs to be for a Test match” after watching Australia pile up 337 for one on the first day of the second Test against England at Lord’s.
It has been suggested that groundsmen have been told to prepare deliberately flat pitches in order to neuter Ashes-holders Australia’s pace attack.
The first Test in Cardiff, which England won by 169 runs last week to go 1-0 up in the five-match Ashes series was played on a slow and low surface — although such pitches have long been associated with matches in the Welsh capital.
However, former Australia captain Ponting said Thursday’s pitch at Lord’s was in marked contrast to the ‘good cricket wicket’ for the first Test between England and New Zealand at Lord’s in May, a surface praised for providing an even contest between bat and ball.
“It’s a very, very different pitch than what we saw against New Zealand only about a month ago so that’s a bit of a worry to me,” Ponting told the ESPNcricinfo website.
Lord’s is owned by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and Ponting, a member of MCC’s world cricket committee, which has made proposals to safeguard the future of Test cricket, said he feared groundsmen were being leant on to prepare surfaces favouring the home side.
“It sounds like the administrators or team captains or coaches might be getting to the groundsmen and asking for certain pitch conditions.”
“I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think that should ever happen in the game,” Ponting said.
“There’s such a thing as home ground advantage but I think that’s taking it a little bit too far.
“What we saw today (Thursday) is a very uncharacteristic Lord’s pitch. I think all anyone wants to see is the character of that ground come out and the character of the pitch come out.”
England beat New Zealand by 124 runs at Lord’s in May after the tourists suffered a last day collapse.
“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,” said Ponting.
“This one, look it could turn out to be a great Test, who knows?
“But for me today( on Thursday) the balance between bat versus ball was nowhere near what it needs to be for a Test match,” Ponting said.
Australia’s Chris Rogers (158 not out) and Steven Smith (129 not out) dominated play after their captain, Michael Clarke, won the toss.
Rogers, who knows the ground well from his time spent playing and captaining Lord’s-based county side Middlesex, said groundsman Mick Hunt would not be a party to foul play.
“I have a lot of faith in Mick. I’ve tried to tell him to prepare certain pitches and he’ll never do it for me,” Rogers said.
“I think he’s actually prepared a good wicket because leading into the game it was pretty ordinary weather.”