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Australia builds artificial pitch for spin challenge in subcontinent

SYDNEY: Australia has built an artificial pitch at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane to help its batsmen deal with spin-bowling on the slow tracks of the subcontinent, where they have so often struggled in the past.

The surface, which is intended to mimic the conditions in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, has a concrete base with artificial grass, clay and turf rolled into a compact layer on top.

“The artificial base and the bounce is a lot different to what we get in Australia,” Cricket Australia’s high performance manager Pat Howard told Brisbane’s Courier Mail on Tuesday.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction. Batsmen can practise on a pitch that will play very differently to what we can expect in Australia.

“It’s a start. At no stage am I going to suggest it’s the finished article but I think it will provide a good, solid base to try something different.”

Australia’s problems with spin bowling are widely considered to have contributed to the humiliating 4-0 series sweep they suffered in India last year.

The first players will get a chance to bat and bowl on it this week as Australia prepare for a trip to the United Arab Emirates to take on Pakistan in two tests, three one-day matches and a Twenty20 starting next month.

Howard said he would continue to investigate the possibility of bringing soil from India to more accurately replicate conditions, even if he had discovered that there was a great deal of variety in the make-up of pitches in South Asia.

“In a further process we have been talking to quarries and doing further testing,” Howard added.

“We even found out that in Mumbai they have a mixture of clays. It’s very different, as you could imagine, if you go from the bottom of Sri Lanka in Galle all the way up to Mohali.

“It’s a fascinating process and we’re not going to have a magic bullet here.

“I’m happy to keep trying and innovating. I’m sure some things won’t go well, but I’m sure over a period of time we can create something that adds to the growth of players against spin.” – Reuters

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