Classic Gabba wicket to decide series

Murray Wenzel
·2-min read

David Sandurski has felt the pressure to deliver but the veteran groundsman is confident he's produced a Gabba wicket worthy of a home Test billed as Australia's most significant in nearly 20 years.

Unbeaten at the Brisbane venue since 1988, Australia can reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy with victory against India in the fourth Test from Friday.

Only once since a series draw with India in 2003 have Australia and the touring team been deadlocked entering the final Test, with South Africa prevailing in a Perth decider in 2012-13.

A loss would also see either team drop to third in the ICC World Test Championship standings behind New Zealand and playing catch-up ahead of June's inaugural final at Lords.

Originally slated for it's traditional season-opening slot, Sandurski said the Test's later staging wouldn't impact the Gabba's famed pace and bounce.

And three months after overseeing preparations for the Gabba's first AFL grand final, the former MCG groundsman said it was set to deliver in the series decider.

"You do feel the pressure for sure; it's a big occasion, deciding the series," he said.

"The aim is to provide a traditional Gabba wicket with some pace and bounce ... there should be enough grass on there to keep the bowlers interested for most of the game.

"You like to get a couple of Sheffield Shields under your belt (before a Test) to know where the wicket's at, but I've made 50 or 60 Shield wickets so it's not a big deal, like riding a bike."

Australia's last defeat in Brisbane came in 1988, when Allan Border's men were thumped by a West Indian outfit that included Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Richie Richardson, Carl Hooper, Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Patrick Patterson.

Australian captain Tim Paine took every opportunity to publicly push for a Test in Brisbane against India, who have drawn once and lost five times in visits to the Gabba.

The wicketkeeper is so comfortable at the venue he's yet to inspect the pitch.

"The Gabba wicket has been a brilliant wicket for Test cricket forever and we don't expect that to change," Paine said.

"From a distance it looks like it always does ... it's a hard place to come and play cricket.

"Even for Tasmanians and Victorians to come here, it can be challenging to adjust to the different bounce and speed of the wicket.

"It's something that has been to the advantage of Australian teams for a long time."