England v India: ECB 'disappointed and sorry' at used pitch for Test

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England and Heather Knight last played a home Test against Australia in 2019
Venue: County Ground, Bristol Dates: 16-19 June Time: 11:00 BST
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary and in-play clips on the BBC Sport website and app. Highlights each evening on Red Button and BBC iPlayer.

The England and Wales Cricket Board says it is “disappointed and sorry” a used pitch will be played on for the one-off Test between England and India.

The pitch that will be used at the County Ground in Bristol has already had 39 overs of men’s Twenty20 cricket played on it on Friday night.

England captain Heather Knight said the situation was “unfortunate”.

“It is not ideal and we would much rather be on a fresh one,” Knight told BBC Sport.

The four-day red-ball match begins on Wednesday.

England found out about the situation last week and tried to get the pitch changed, but it was too late to prepare a fresh one.

“We know that England Women deserve a fresh wicket and we are sorry that we were unable to provide that in this instance,” an ECB spokesperson said.

“With the Test only being added to the calendar in mid-April, coupled with the lack of available first class grounds, we knew a fresh TV pitch was going to be a challenge.

“We accept that this issue shouldn’t have arisen and we will make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.”

While a used pitch may encourage more turn as the game goes on, it could also have the opposite effect.

The pitch could flatten out and slow down, thereby making it difficult to force a result.

It is unlikely that a men’s Test would be played on a used pitch and women’s Tests have often been criticised for being dull in the past, with pitches cited as part of the issue.

“We’re confident we’ve got the team to be able to take 20 wickets and score the runs to win a Test match,” Knight said.

“We can moan about it later – we’ve just got to play what’s in front of us, we can’t use it as a negative or an excuse or frustration.”

Sides prepare for red-ball return

England have not played a Test against anyone other than Australia since 2014, while India have not played the format for six years.

India won their last meeting at Wormsley by six wickets.

“Each one of us is desperate to be that player who will put in the [game-changing] performance,” Knight said.

England’s series against India will follow the same format as the points-based Women’s Ashes, with four points on offer for the winner of the Test and two each if it is drawn.

The Test will be followed by three one-day internationals and three Twenty20s, each worth three points.

While England have played three Tests in the past six years, they have struggled against Australia, drawing twice and losing in Canterbury in 2015.

“It’s a real challenge, and that is what is so great about Test match cricket,” Knight, who will captain England for the 100th time, said.

“We play so much white-ball cricket that to train for something slightly different, and a different challenge that we only get every couple of years, is really nice.

“A bit of variety makes things fun.”

England have never beaten India on home soil but 11 of their 15-player squad have Test experience, compared with eight of the tourists’ party.

Shafali Verma, who is the top-ranked T20 batter in the world, could make her debut at the top of the order for India.

However, captain Mithali Raj – one of seven players who featured in the victory over England in 2014 – does not want to overburden her young team-mates.

“It’s been seven years since the last Test and most of the players played predominantly white-ball cricket in those years,” she added.

“We don’t want to burden young players with expectations. We just want them to play their game and enjoy it.”

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