Once again the country’s best wicket played host to an unforgettable spectacle, and now other grounds around the country need to follow suit.
On the surface the first Test between Australia and India – over before the second break on Day 3 – might appear to have concluded too quickly.
In a curator’s constant search for an ‘even battle between bat and ball’, had the Adelaide staff skewed too far to the latter?
In fact the absorbing contest once again belies the notion drop-in wickets are, by their nature, flat and lacking life.
That the first Test was over in such a short period of time was no reflection on the pitch, something the touring skipper said himself post-game.
“It’s a strange one to be honest because the ball didn’t do much,” Virat Kohli said after his side were routed for 36, India’s lowest ever Test score.
“They bowled similar lengths in the first innings as well and we were just better in terms of handling it and having a plan.”
Post-play on the Friday evening – just after India had bowled Australia out for 191 – spinner Ravichandran Ashwin said the pitch would in fact get “better for batting” as the match progressed.
Less than two sessions later the Test was over.
The pitch offered both sideways movement for the quicks – even in the middle overs – and turn for the spinners from the outset.
It rewarded good technique and positivity with the bat and had no discernible ‘demons’.
In the end it provided a low-scoring encounter, but on most occasions low-scoring Test cricket equals entertaining cricket.
When every run counts, it’s difficult to turn away from the contest.
As Tim Paine was counterpunching with the Australian tail on Friday evening, single-handedly cutting down what could have been a sizeable first innings deficit, few eyes would have shifted from the screen.
Each quick single or leg bye was applauded.
It was a truly engrossing final session, which has become a rarity in Australian-hosted Test matches in recent years.
The match itself was set up perfectly before the carnage of Saturday afternoon.
Had India scratched their way to 120 in its second innings and set Australia 170-odd for victory in Adelaide, we might have been in for an all-time classic.
It wasn’t to be, but that was no fault of the curators, who once again have led the way and set the bar high.
It’s now imperative that other grounds around the country follow suit for the rest of the series, notably the MCG and SCG, which have served up mostly poor surfaces in recent years.
Melbourne’s pitch for the New Zealand contest last year was an improvement on previous years’ diabolical decks for the India and Ashes series respectively.
But it was judged favourably because of these poor years – the bar was low and the only way was up.
Sure, it was better, but a great pitch it wasn’t.
Speaking after the Adelaide Test, Pat Cummins spoke glowingly of the Adelaide surface. And given the polite Cummins rarely offers up forthright opinions, his assessment of recent MCG wickets spoke volumes.
“I thought the Ashes Test and the Indian Test at the MCG a couple of years ago were pretty flat and boring wickets as a bowler,” he said.
The Australian vice-captain added that the Adelaide deck was the perfect formula for Test cricket.
“Not only as a player but as a fan, they are the best wickets – when it is good battle between bat and ball. You feel like if you do your skill well, you can have a big impact on the game.”
The SCG too needs to improve – should it see off COVID threats and host the third or fourth Test.
While it hasn’t helped that Sydney has not hosted a ‘live’ Test – that is, with both teams still in the series hunt – since 2004, the surface itself has rarely inspired.
While attritional and entertaining Test cricket aren’t mutually exclusive – as we saw on Day 1 in Adelaide – too often at the SCG has Test cricket skewed heavily to the former.
While the hope is of lively wickets in Melbourne and Sydney, the possibility it may play to (recent) form means Cameron Green will play an even more important role for the Aussies as the fifth bowling option.
Green was excellent in the first innings in Adelaide, and his 8-10 probing overs per day going forward will prove invaluable for Paine to avoid overworking his pace trio on flatter surfaces.