‘Jelly’ concerns at Edgbaston as Australia look to regroup
GROUNDSMAN Steve Rouse admits he is facing a race against time to prepare the Edgbaston pitch for next week’s third Ashes Test, claiming heavy rain has turned it into “a jelly”.
“It’s a nightmare,” Rouse confessed. “We’ve had two actual dry days in the last 10 and the wicket is like a jelly.
“It has to be ready a day before and I’ve got no chance of getting it solid, not with the weather coming in.”
Rouse suffered similar problems at Warwickshire’s ground four years ago when three inches of rainfall left him four days behind schedule.
That wicket proved to be slow but culminated in one of the most thrilling Test matches ever with England triumphing by just two runs.
Indeed, England have a good record at Edgbaston, winning 22 of the 43 Tests hosted there, drawing 13 and losing only eight.
Australia, meanwhile, look set to be without Brett Lee once again for the third Test after the fast bowler was left out of a 12-man squad to play Northamptonshire in a three-day tour match starting today.
Lee has failed to recover from the side strain which forced him to sit out the opening two Tests, and it is believed the fourth Test at Headingley on August 7 is a more realistic return date.
Mike Hussey will captain the side with Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke both rested, although under-fire pair Mitchell Johnson and Phil Hughes are both included.
Indeed, Hussey has set a game plan for Johnson in a bid to bring him back to form. “I don’t want to bowl him into the ground as there is just over a week until the Test starts,” he said.