Ashes 2015: Edgbaston groundsman predicts 'good' pitch

Edgbaston
England beat Australia by two runs at Edgbaston in 2005
Ashes 2015: England v Australia
Venue: Edgbaston, Birmingham. Date: 29 July - 2 August
Coverage: Live Test Match Special radio and text commentary on every match on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra & BBC Sport website, plus desktop, tablets, mobiles and app.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has given "no directive" about the pitch ahead of next week's third Test, says Edgbaston groundsman Gary Barwell.

The pitches produced for the first two Tests, at Cardiff and Lord's, have been criticised for being too slow.

Australia levelled the series at 1-1 with a 405-run win at Lord's.

"I'm trying to produce a good-quality Test pitch with plenty for the bowlers and the batsmen: good carry and good bounce," said Barwell.

"I've had no directives from the ECB on what kind of pitch to prepare."

England skipper Alastair Cook denied requesting a slow pitch at Lord's after Australia outbowled England on a benign surface.

He is hoping the rest of the series will be played on pitches that assist England's seamers.

"We want to play on English wickets and that probably wasn't too English, but that's nowhere near an excuse," he said on Sunday.

Edgbaston, which will be hosting its first Test since 2012, has offered assistance to the bowlers in recent years.

Of England's last five Tests held there, the average first-innings score is 243 - Pakistan being bowled out for 72 in 2010.

Ian Bell
Ian Bell averages 20.84 in Tests in this calendar year

Bell backed to find form at home ground

Ian Bell will be playing on his home ground at Edgbaston with doubts over his form.

The 33-year-old has been moved up to number three for the match, in place of Gary Ballance, and ex-England batsman Geoffrey Boycott says the Warwickshire man could be facing "the end" if he doesn't perform.

The right-hander has never scored a century in five Tests at his county home, averaging 43 there, but all-rounder Chris Woakes is hoping for a big score from his county team-mate.

"He's got it all," Woakes, who has just returned from injury, told BBC Sport. "I've played with Bell for a long time - he's a world-class batsman.

"He's not in the best form at the moment but with the next Test at Edgbaston, his home ground, hopefully he'll produce the goods.

"Being promoted to number three will be a good thing for him."

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