England cricket fans erupt over 'extraordinary' T20 World Cup move

Pictured left to right, England cricket allrounder Ben Stokes and India star Virat Kohli.
England cricket fans say the used pitch in Adelaide will be more beneficial to India in Thursday night's T20 World Cup semi-final. Pic: Getty

England cricket fans are up in arms over the fact their side's T20 World Cup semi-final against India will be played on a used pitch at Adelaide Oval.

The English team discovered on Tuesday they will be playing on the same pitch that staged the New Zealand-Ireland and Australia-Afghanistan double-header last Friday.

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A used surface has been something of an Achilles heel in the past but England have beaten New Zealand and Sri Lanka on such wickets.

However, that hasn't stopped English media and the team's fans from hitting out over the issue, with many insisting that a fresh pitch should be used for a game of this magnitude.

Much of the concern from an English perspective centres around the assumption that a used wicket will be more suitable for India's spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel, as opposed to England's Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali.

Seen here, India's Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates during his side's T20 World Cup win over Bangladesh at Adelaide Oval.
India's Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates during his side's T20 World Cup win over Bangladesh at Adelaide Oval. Pic: Getty

Daily Mail cricket writer Paul Newman labelled it an “extraordinary” decision to play such a high-stakes match on a used pitch - a move the International Cricket Council has since defended.

"The ICC does not have a rule about the use of fresh-only or used pitches for any match in an ICC event," an ICC spokesman said.

"Our requirement is for the best possible playing surface for every match. It does not necessarily follow that a 'new' pitch will be better than one that may have been previously used."

Newman’s criticism of the used pitch has been shared by other England cricket fans on social media, with some accusing the ICC of favouritism towards India.

However, Aussie cricket writer Daniel Brettig challenged any assertion that the used pitch would be more beneficial for India's spinners, claiming that Adelaide Oval is one of the few pitches where that is not the case.

“Funnily enough, the older or more “used” an Adelaide Oval drop-in pitch is, the less it tends to spin,” Brettig wrote in response to Newman’s tweet.

“The spin on the surface these days actually comes from thatchy live grass coverage rather than much wear and tear. Ask any local player.”

Ben Stokes says England will 'adapt' to the Adelaide wicket

Speaking before Thursday night's showdown, England allrounder Ben Stokes says his side will have to adjust to the unfamiliar ground dimensions at Adelaide, which are longer straight and shorter square.

While they were presented with similar measurements against Sri Lanka at Sydney - where Stokes' 42 not out off 36 balls helped England to victory, which ensured a top-two finish in their Super 12s group ahead of Ashes rivals Australia - at Adelaide the difference is more pronounced.

"We'll have to wait and see what the wicket does on Thursday, I guess," he said. "It's about assessing and adapting to whatever situation you have in front of you.

"But we've been playing on big, square boundaries and looking to try and get the batters to hit to them, whereas here we're probably going to have to look to change our tactics."

England have reached at least the semi-final stage of every International Cricket Council event since 2015, but their lone global success in that time was the 2019 50-over World Cup on home soil.

They are regarded as slight underdogs to reach Sunday’s marquee match at the MCG, with the England team set to make late decisions on both Dawid Malan and Mark Wood, with the pair racing the clock to prove their fitness.

Malan tweaked his left groin last weekend, while Wood has felt general body stiffness. They performed a few shuttle runs on the Adelaide Oval outfield at Wednesday’s practice away from the main group, while Wood bowled a dozen deliveries in the nets without looking like he was at full tilt.

However, Wood seems likelier to play than Malan, who was seen having a couple of gentle throw-downs as the net session wound towards a close as he batted for the first time since suffering his injury.

“We will see how they pull up. We trust the medical team, we trust the two guys as well. We will give them as long as possible," England skipper Jos Buttler said.

“You need guys to be fit to participate in the game. I think in all sports you have players that don’t always play at 100 per cent, but of course you have to be able to fulfil your role in the team.”

with agencies

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