England captain Heather Knight on Tuesday expressed displeasure at an used pitch being given for her side’s one-off Test against India in Bristol beginning on Wednesday.
Knight said they found out about the wicket last week and they tried to get it changed, as they would want to play on a fresh strip. The pitch at the Bristol’s County Ground for the match was used for a Gloucestershire T20 match last week.
Later, a spokesperson of England and Wales Cricket Board admitted it could not give a fresh wicket as the Test was only being added to the calendar in mid-April. The host board came under a lot of flak for this before they issued the clarification.
“I’ve had a look (at the pitch), it is a used wicket… which I guess obviously isn’t ideal. We would much prefer to be on a fresh one but it is what it is and we don’t know how it’s going to play necessarily,” Knight said on the eve of their four-day fixture.
“But it was a little bit too late for that to happen. Obviously it’s unfortunate and it’s not ideal and we’d rather be on a fresh one, but we don’t know how it’s going to play yet, it still could play very well,” she said.
Knight also pointed out that it might become sluggish to assist a “spin-heavy” Indian side.
“Generally at Bristol you look at the deck sometimes and it looks not great but it actually plays brilliantly. So look, it’s not ideal but it is what it is and we’re obviously going to have to perform as best we can on the wicket we’re given.”
The ECB statement apologised for the issue saying, “We are all disappointed that the wicket for the LV= Insurance Test match against India will have had 37 overs played on it. We know that England Women deserve a fresh wicket and we are sorry that we were unable to provide that in this instance.
“With the Test only being added to the calendar in mid-April, coupled with the lack of available first-class grounds, we knew a fresh TV pitch was going to be a challenge. We accept that this issue shouldn’t have arisen and we will make sure it doesn’t happen in the future,” the statement said.
“With the exception of Hove – the venue for the second Vitality IT20, for which a hybrid wicket will be used – all other white-ball matches against India will be played on fresh wickets including the opening Royal London ODI at Bristol on June 27.”
Knight said her side were preparing for a spin challenge from the Indian team.
“They’re a good team, they’ve got some brilliant bowlers. I imagine their attack will be reasonably spin heavy and we’ve been preparing for that.”
She cited an example of their Ashes Test at Taunton where England played the first women’s Test to be broadcast live on a pitch used for New Zealand against Afghanistan 40 days before.
“I guess at Taunton there was a lot of talk about the pitch and it didn’t actually do too much, so we’re going to have to wait and see and see how it plays,” Knight said.
“Obviously slightly different with it being used, but we’re confident we’ve got the squad and the XI that we’re going to pick to win this Test match.”
As for India, the Mithali Raj-led side had toured England in 2014 for a one-off Test and hosted South Africa for a Test the same year. Those were the only Test matches in the past 14 years.
Mithali was among the seven current players, who were a part of that victorious eleven against South Africa in Mysuru.
“They’ve got some world-class batters that we’re going to have very clear plans against us. They’ve got some aggressive batters as well that could take the game away from us but we’re very confident in our plans and how we’re going to do things,” Knight said.
“We feel like we’ve got the line-up to be able to take 20 wickets in a Test match, which is obviously what we’re going to do and go for that win which we think we can,” she added.
With PTI Inputs