Pitch conditions hardly a conspiracy: Alastair Cook

England captain allays Australia’s suspicions ahead of 3rd Ashes Test today.

Agencies July 31, 2013
For Australia, the third Test is their last hope to save their Ashes campaign against England. PHOTO: AFP

MANCHESTER: England captain Alastair Cook said yesterday that adapting to different conditions was all part of the game, amid suggestions that pitches for the Ashes series had been prepared to order.

Cook’s men are 2-0 up with three to play heading into the third Test against Australia at Manchester’s Old Trafford starting today.

At both Trent Bridge and Lord’s, where Ashes-holders England won the second Test by a colossal 347 runs, pitches were bare and dry, aiding reverse swing and spin — two areas where the hosts are considered to have an advantage over their archrivals.

However, the tourists were convinced the pitch had been doctored, with former Australia leg-spinner Bill O’Reilly, covering the series as a journalist, saying, “Good god, I’d get 12 wickets on that excuse for a pitch without bothering to remove my coat!”

Cook, however, said this was more a case of coincidence than conspiracy.

“I think the hot summer has certainly made it difficult to prepare anything different,” said Cook. “I think it is always weather-dependent what sort of pitches you have.”

As for host nations preparing pitches in their favour, Cook said, “That’s what home advantage is. It’s very hard to actually just order a pitch.

“You can ask for one to try to suit your style of play. But it’s very difficult to get it absolutely right with the weather. We had a month’s worth of rain in three hours the other day, so that obviously changes it a lot.”

Meanwhile Australia captain Michael Clarke had no complaints about the kind of pitches his side had found themselves playing on in recent times.

“Well, it’s smart by the other countries now, isn’t it?” said Clarke. “Our strength is our fast-bowling so they are trying to take that as much as they can out of the equation.

“If I was a in different country, I would be doing exactly the same.  We have to continue to get better.”

Clarke remains confident of win

Clarke provoked raucous laughter when he said Australia could still win the Ashes after the Lord’s pasting but he was at it again yesterday when he asserted his tourists could buck the odds and beat England at Old Trafford.

“England were the better team at Lord’s but we know we can beat them,” he said.

“We have shown enough individually to know that as a unit we are a very competitive side.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2013.

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