New Zealand v England - 2nd Test: Day 5
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 28: Ben Duckett of England bats during day five of the Second Test Match between New Zealand and England at Basin Reserve on February 28, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
New Zealand v England - 2nd Test: Day 5

Ben Stokes asked for roads and short boundaries ahead of the Ashes, and while the curators missed the mark in Edgbaston, he might want to be getting on the telephone and changing those plans for the remaining Tests.

While the 'road' rolled out in Edgbaston is just that, it has been a poorly done road.

The pitch is dry and slow and has struggled to make anything out of the match for either team, with the quicks, in particular, struggling to make their influence felt at all.

The Australians, on the first morning of the match, had the lowest percentage of swing and seam recorded for an inning in England since tracking of that data began all the way back in 2006.

This is the fifth Ashes series since then, and of course, England has hosted countless more Tests.

The overhead conditions didn't help the Aussies, but they were more helpful on Day 2, and even then, England didn't have the new Dukes ball doing what it traditionally does in those English conditions, which have so often caused headaches for Australian batting line-ups.

That's not to say Australia's top order didn't find themselves in strife after a typically aggressive declaration at the end of Day 1 from Ben Stokes, but they were able to recover. Once Usman Khawaja, Travis Head and Alex Carey got going, there was little the English bowling attack could do to stop them, as was the case for the visiting bowling attack against the English side, who piled on almost 400 runs during Day 1 despite six overs being lost to slow play and a declaration prior to stumps.

While Day 4 could yet prove to be a turning point for the game as the dry wicket crumbles and spin takes over, the bottom line is that the cricket has not been a great brand throughout the match by either side, which has been facilitated by a very poor wicket.

It hasn't helped England, who, while batting aggressively, didn't go to the extent they might have wanted to, and then, by designing the pitch they did, it took away from their greatest strength.

Stuart Broad and James Anderson have had Australian batting line-ups on the hook in English conditions for years. Multiple times Australia have struggled to contain them. Last time, without Steve Smith's heroics, the series would have been a write-off.

But this time, the duo barely got a ball to seam, swing or beat the edge.

Despite it being the pitch England had requested, Broad himself slammed the pitch as "characterless and soulless" after bowling on it during Day 2.

"Hopefully it's not a trend for the whole series," Broad said.

"How can I be polite? It's a very slow, low surface that saps the energy out of the ball, would be the nice way to put it.

"It's been pretty characterless so far - a bit soulless. But ultimately you can only judge it towards the end of a Test match and see how it develops.

"It's certainly one of the slowest pitches I can remember bowling on in England. I think there was a stat that, for the Aussies in the first 10 overs, it moved the least-ever recorded. It has certainly been hard work for the seamers.

"Ultimately, we're looking to entertain and have fun and get the crowd jumping, and it's quite a difficult pitch to get plays-and-misses on and nicks to slip and stuff… these sorts of pitches are your worst nightmare when Steve Smith walks to the crease, to be honest."

England v Pakistan: Day 5 - Third Test #RaiseTheBat Series
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 25: James Anderson (C) of England walks off with Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes after reaching 600 Test Match Wickets at close of play on Day Five of the 3rd #RaiseTheBat Test Match between England and Pakistan at the Ageas Bowl on August 25, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images for ECB)

Australia's first innings, all told, ultimately saw Broad and Anderson take four wickets between them, but it was a hard slog at best.

And now, the pressure turns to Moeen Ali, who went at almost four and a half runs per over in the first innings. The bottom line is that to win on the road, you need an elite spinner, and Ali, who had retired from Test cricket, is not going to out bowl Nathan Lyon.

England might want to play BazBall-style cricket, but they must get back to what they do best in home conditions because serving up those conditions that Australia would be far more used to for the rest of the series and bowling their veteran seamers into the ground, will not win them back the urn.

Edgbastong, on account of the weather, will probably end up a draw, but there are four Tests to go, and if we get conditions like in Edgbastong, Australia will go in as raging favourites.