Not cricket to tinker with pitches, says Ponting

LONDON • Ricky Ponting thinks "the balance between bat versus ball was nowhere near what it needs to be for a Test match". He said this after watching Australia pile up 424-3 at lunch on day two of the second cricket Test against England yesterday at Lord's.

There are suggestions that groundsmen have been told to deliberately prepare 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 series, was played on a slow and low surface.

Former Australia captain Ponting said the pitch at Lord's was in marked contrast to the "good cricket wicket" for the first Test between England and New Zealand at the same venue 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," he told the ESPNcricinfo website.

Lord's is owned by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). 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.

"There's such a thing as home- ground advantage but I think that's taking it a little bit too far."

England picked up two early wickets yesterday morning - Chris Rogers for 173 and Michael Clarke for seven. But Steve Smith moved serenely on to 168 not out at lunch.

And with Adam Voges on 24, the Australians were firmly on course for a huge first-innings total.

England's fast bowlers extracted more movement than they did on the first day when Australia racked up 337-1.

But still the bat prevailed.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2015, with the headline 'Not cricket to tinker with pitches, says Ponting'. Print Edition | Subscribe