Talking up the spin doctors
INDIA surprised friend and foe to claim the ICC Champions Trophy in the UK four years ago.
Even with heavy rain sweeping across Birmingham for most of the final, MS Dhoni hauled out his spinners to tie England into a spiteful web.
For so long teams from the subcontinent had come over to England expecting a pasting, owing to both the clouds above and grass underfoot that promotes swing and seam bowling.
India’s endeavours were, of course, aided by excellent work from the Edgbaston ground staff who managed to keep the pitch bone dry, which allowed Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin to make the ball turn, bounce and spit like they do so splendidly back home.
The 2017 edition is set to be played at thesame three venues this time around, and not at Lord’s where Kagiso Rabada and Co prospered on a green-tinged pitch on Monday that had England captain Eoin Morgan – a casualty from that 2013 final defeat – criticising the surface after his team were reduced to 20/6 within the first five overs.
So, expect the curators at the Oval, Edgbaston and Sophia Gardens to haul out their lawnmowers to ensure all their pitches are devoid of any grass, especially with Morgan specifically pointing out after Monday’s defeat: “I’d be disappointed if we did come across surfaces like that in the ICC Champions Trophy. There was a lot of live, green grass on the wicket.”
This, in turn will only increase the spinners’ significance in this upcoming Champions Trophy, with captains most often expecting their spinners to keep a tight leash on the run-rate during the middle overs and, hopefully, pick up a couple of wickets to stem the tide.
“I have no doubt the wickets are not going to look anything like Lord’s. They are definitely going to be a lot flatter and that possibly even allows teams like South Africa to play two spinners,” said former Proteas left-armer Robin Peterson, who played in the 2013 edition.
“Since the 2015 World Cup, England have really transformed their ODI side and a lot of that has to do with the attacking style of cricket they want to play. You can’t play that type of cricket on pitches that move around, so that does bring the