STUART BROAD: No gripes about pitch, home team SHOULD get advantage

STUART BROAD: England have no gripes about India’s Chennai pitch. Why shouldn’t home teams get an advantage?

  • England were comfortably defeated in the second test against India in Chennai
  • Some complained that the pitch was heavily weighted in the hosts’ favour 
  • But that’s exactly what home advantage is, why shouldn’t they seize it? 

Defeat in the second Test made this week a tough one but I think it’s important to reflect honestly and pragmatically about things.

We got outplayed, out-skilled on that pitch in Chennai and we don’t want to tear ourselves down too much because things didn’t go our way and India played really well.

It was a pitch that made the toss crucial, just as had been the case when we won the first Test match at the same ground.

India eased past England to win the second test in Chennai, taking advantage of hosting it 

We posted a score of close to 600, and batting on that pitch on day one compared to day five was a completely different kettle of fish.

For example, Virat Kohli was dismissed by a delivery that rolled over the top of his shoe laces on that fifth day when the ball was also reversing and turning square.

Equally, look at the ball Joe Root got prodding forward, playing a forward defence — it exploded to shoulder height.

You get that huge differentiation in bounce when pitches deteriorate and on pitches that play like that it is obviously easier to score runs before they get worn.

If you lose the toss on that pitch, you then have to play a once-in-a-lifetime match to win it and India did not allow any chance of that.

India shut-out any possibility of England coming back from losing the toss, dominating the test

A couple of key guys in Rohit Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin made massive contributions, and we have to appreciate that India played really well and we didn’t get it quite right.

There is no criticism of the second Test pitch from our point of view. That’s exactly what home advantage is and you are well within your rights to utilise that. Why wouldn’t India play on pitches that turn square and upon which first innings runs are vital? They outplayed us on a pitch that they are very skilled on but one very alien to us.

It’s the same as when we beat India at Lord’s in 2018: the ball swung around, and when it did it looked like a different pitch when we batted on it compared to our opposition. Why? Because we have spent 30 years playing against the ball moving through the air. India were dismissed for 107 and 130 and we won by an innings.

There are all different ways of trying to give yourself an advantage on home turf. When South Africa play at home to Sri Lanka, it doesn’t get talked about too much that they play on pitches of steep bounce and rapid pace on the Highveld.

England took advantage of their home pitch themselves in 2018 to trounce India at Lord’s 

In Australia, they have a tendency to play the first match of a series at the Gabba because it’s a stronghold for them. There are all kinds of subtle advantages used across the world of sport. This one just happened to slap us in the face.

While we were playing in Chennai, those not picked were using the pink SG ball in the nets in readiness for the day-night third match in Ahmedabad and the reports are it swings and nips about, which is encouraging. 

I’ve held one and it’s harder than the red one but doesn’t look as though it will reverse as much as it has a lacquer rather than a leather that will peel away.

I have to say that this new stadium at Motera, the biggest in the world, is so impressive that it has a bit of an aura about it even when empty. It’s like a coliseum. 

From the changing room to middle is a three-minute walk and that might bring timed-out dismissals into play! One or two batsmen might have to get a little jog on to remain safe.

England will be playing their next Test against India at the new, massive Motera Stadium

I can only imagine what it will be like at 50 per cent capacity, with 55,000 people in, from Wednesday. And with 110,000, at a World Cup match later this year for example, I don’t know if we would be able to hear ourselves think. 

The loudest I’ve ever heard a crowd was at the MCG in the 2017-18 Ashes when I caught David Warner on 99 — only for us to discover Tom Curran had bowled a no ball. When he got to his hundred next ball the noise was incredible but I think this ground has the potential to outdo it.

And even a crowd of 10,000 daily made a big difference last week compared to the behind-closed- doors first match, it didn’t feel as though it was a coincidence that India’s players upped their game.

Conditions this week might be slightly more in our favour — if you are talking about England, Australia and South Africa playing here, you would probably choose a pink ball if you are looking at evening things up — but we must remember India possess some fine seam bowlers and are at home.

Joe Root’s men will be looking to bounce-back and repeat their first Test victory over India 

Personally, there should be more for me to work with, if selected. There was nothing in the Chennai pitch on that first day and it was only when I went Anil Kumble and started to get the leg-cutter really jagging off the surface that I felt in the game.

If I’d been 23 and finished with no wickets I would have been annoyed and frustrated but experience helps in this situation.

I know that I created slip and caught-behind chances and as a seamer you can only create the opportunities, not guarantee that the batsmen are out as a result. I’ve reflected that I created as many chances as any other seamer on that pitch, more or less.

I’m hungry to play this week but I appreciate these Indian conditions are not necessarily my strength and my record here doesn’t compare to my one in England, South Africa and the Caribbean.

There has been talk of this being the match most likely for myself and James Anderson to play in the same team this winter but it is all guesswork for the next few days.

Selection can only really take place after a look at the pitch on Tuesday or even on the morning of the game, and now that Moeen Ali has gone home, it feels like it will either be two seamers plus Ben Stokes or three plus Stokes and the spinner — a more traditionally English team, if you like.

Rest will increase chances of glory

Moeen Ali’s departure got some headlines but it was always planned for him to go home after two Tests here to see his family before coming back out for the white-ball games.

People have questioned the resting of players but I see things like this: England have to win white-ball trophies while we have this unbelievable group of players at their peak. I compare this current limited-overs group to the Manchester United team of 1999-2004.

We will rightly be in the top two favourites for the Twenty20 World Cup and the players need to be fresh for that. Equally, you want similar for the squad sent to contest the Ashes.

Moeen Ali has flown home to miss the third Test, as England’s rotation system takes effect

For some there is a mental tiredness that comes from being alone in a hotel room for weeks and you don’t want that to have a significant impact on the eve of a World Cup semi-final or a Test with the Ashes on the line.

For recent Ashes tours, some players have arrived fatigued.

Why not do things slightly differently this time? Not send them to Australia knackered but in a state of wanting a bit more.

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