Aussies worried over ‘jelly’ pitch for third Test

Australia’s hopes of drawing level in the Ashes by winning next week’s third Test against England could be dented by the poor state of the pitch at Edgbaston.

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With the series poised at 1-0 to England after their victory at Lord’s this week, Ricky Ponting’s team desperately need a positive result in Birmingham, but Edgbaston groundsman Steve Rouse says bad weather has left the playing surface looking “like jelly”.

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Forecasts between now and the start of the Test next Thursday offer little cause for optimism and Rouse acknowledges his ground-staff face a battle to prepare a wicket fit for five days.

“It’s a nightmare,” Rouse told BBC Sport. “We’ve had two actual dry days in the last 10 and the wicket is like 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.”

Flintoff vows to make Edgbaston

Earlier England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff reiterated his intention to play through the pain barrier as he seeks to get fit enough for the third Ashes Test.

With the loss of Kevin Pietersen following Achilles surgery Tuesday, Flintoff’s availability is now of vital importance as England bid to extend a 1-0 lead was instrumental in conjuring in a second Test which saw the Australians sent packing at Lord’s for the first time since 1934.

Flintoff, who will end his Test career after the Ashes series, says he will do whatever it takes to play.

“There are no guarantees for anybody. But I have three Test matches left, and I’d do anything to get through, maybe put myself through things I wouldn’t do if I was looking more long term,” Flintoff, 31, told Thursday’s Independent newspaper.

“I will do whatever it takes to get out on the field. If I don’t it has to be something extremely serious. The encouraging thing was that I bowled regularly over 90mph at Lord’s.

“The knee was sore on Tuesday and it’s still sore but I’ll rest up in front of the telly for the next few days and then get ready for Edgbaston.”

Flintoff, battling a knee injury, produced a man-of-the-match performance with a second-innings five-wicket haul as England triumphed after the first Test had ended in stalemate in Cardiff.

On Tuesday, Flintoff had expressed similar defiance in the face of his struggle for fitness although he admitted in a BBC interview that “the things I am going through to get on the cricket field I can do short term but I won’t be able to do it much longer.”