‘I have never been told that’ -  Head groundsman Gary Barwell refutes Ben Stokes' claim of requesting for flat tracks

"I can 100% tell you I have never been told that, I know they want good pitches; that’s all I’ve heard," Gary Barwell said.

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Gary Barwell Head groundsman at Edgbaston.
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Gary Barwell Head groundsman at Edgbaston. (Photo Source : Gettyimages)

With the Ashes 2023 right around the corner, both England and Australia would be keen on staying at the top of their game for the much-anticipated Test series. With England hosting the five-match series, skipper Ben Stokes was recently asked what kind of pitches he would prefer when the side took on the Aussies.

Stokes opined that the side has been clear with the ground staff about what kind of surface they would like; he stated that they had asked for fast and flat wickets for the upcoming Ashes series. However, Gary Barwell, head of sports turf and grounds at Edgbaston, where the first Test will be played, came forward to opine that he had not received any communication about Ben Stokes asking for specific kinds of pitches.

"I was on holiday in Miami, and I got sent the clip. I can 100% tell you I have never been told that, I know they want good pitches; that’s all I’ve heard, and I don’t think that’s unusual. I’ve never been asked to produce a pitch for England in all the time I’ve been here. I get asked to produce a good cricket wicket, and that’s it," Gary Barwell was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

ECB has not been at that level: Barwell

Furthermore, Barwell also stated that the quality of pitches have massively improved in recent times and opined that Premier League football has played a big part in helping England’s cricket pitches reach new heights.

"Football’s got the money, of course it has, but the Premier League has been a real help in pushing standards. They back the grounds manager, and with cricket, I think the progress that’s been made on pitches has been potentially a little bit despite ECB involvement rather than because of it. With the Premier League, it’s one common goal to have an amazing pitch; rugby’s similar. The level of research and interaction with groundsmen from the ECB has not been at that level," Barwell said.

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