Adelaide record promises better for England

November 28, 2017

England may have fallen victim to Australia's ongoing impregnability at the fortress that is the Gabba, but the Adelaide Oval is a rather different matter. 

The tourists will go into the second Test starting at the end of this week (December 2nd) with real hopes, not least because it is a day-night game with a pink ball that is likely to swing under the floodlights. 

While Mitchell Starc is expected to make a major impact in such circumstances and there is talk Australia may call up 'pink ball specialist' Chadd Sayers for the game, James Anderson and Stuart Broad are also expected to be highly effective. The tinge of green in the pitch may also help improve England's back-up bowling after Chris Woakes and Jake Ball struggled in Brisbane.

Ball may be most at risk, with the main alternative being to bring in Somerset all-rounder Jamie Overton. He could also boost the batting strength of a lower order that was bullied by Australia's aggressive fast bowling tactics. 

Fans booking corporate hospitality for next summer's Edgbaston Test match between England and world number one side India may have very fresh memories of England's sole day-night Test, which was played at the ground earlier this year. 

While the chilly Birmingham conditions were in stark contrast to the baking daytime temperatures and mild evenings usually experienced in Adelaide in early summer, the way England batted against and bowled with the pink ball in a crushing win over the West Indies offers plenty of reason for optimism. 

Of equal relevance may be the fact that England have enjoyed a much better record at Adelaide than grounds such as the Gabba or the WACA in Perth.

True, this has included some heavy defeats - an innings loss in 2002-03, an extraordinary defeat in 2006 after England had dominated the match for four days before collapsing on the final morning, and a blitzing from Mitchell Johnson last time. However, England's victorious 2010-11 campaign included a spectacular innings win at the venue and even in the 1994-95 series - when England lost the series easily - they still managed a 106-run win there. 

What has been notable is the number of very large scores made by English batsmen at the venue. In 2002 Michael Vaughan made 177, four years later Paul Collingwood hit 206 and Kevin Pietersen 158, and in the victory of 2010 Pietersen made his Test-best score of 227, backed up by 148 from Alastair Cook as England piled up 620-5 declared. 

Turning good starts into big hundreds has been a key problem for England on tour and was the case again in Brisbane, where seven players made 38 or more but nobody went on to make more than 83. 

England's warm-up game at the venue against a Cricket Australia XI with a pink ball suggested that big scores may not be on the cards. They won a low-scoring game after dismissing their hosts for just 75 in the final innings, and it may be the second Test does not make even a fourth day, let alone a fifth. 

Just as Adelaide's towering new stands contrast with the historic hill and a scoreboard dating from 1911, so it is that the challenge the venue provides will also be a mix of the familiar and unfamiliar. But it gives England a real chance of getting back into the series.

Image: Getty, from Keith Prowse subscription 

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