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MCG handed official warning by ICC

The fallout from the 'poor' Boxing Day pitch continues

The MCG has escaped a fine but been given an official warning for producing a 'poor' pitch for the fourth Magellan Ashes Test, the International Cricket Council has announced. 

The annual Boxing Day Test was the only match of this summer's five-Test series that failed to produce a result, with more than 1,000 runs and 24 wickets falling over the five days. 

ICC Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle gave the pitch the 'poor' rating in his official report after it had attracted criticism from both competing teams, commentators and administrators. 

It was the first time an international venue in Australia had been rated 'poor'. The rating came just days before new regulations were introduced that would have seen the nation's most famous cricket ground slapped with three demerit points as part of a new 'name and shame' system from the ICC.

The new regulations, introduced on January 4, have the power to strip a ground of the right to host international fixtures for two years if accumulates 10 demerit points.

Under the previous regulations the MCG was judged upon, sanctions ranged from the warning the ground did receive to a US$15,000 fine. 

Should the MCG produce another harshly rated pitch during the next five years, that fine could be increased to a maximum of $US30,000.

Fourth Test wrap: Australia’s whitewash hopes erased

A Cricket Australia spokesperson said the governing body was committed to working with the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) to rectify the pitch issues.

"Cricket Australia and the MCC have committed to work together to finding and resourcing solutions to ensure that the MCG regains its unique characteristics, and is seen as one of the best Test pitches in the world," the spokesperson said.

"Cricket Australia wants to work closely with all of its venues to continue to produce pitches that are challenging for both bat and ball, and ultimately provide fans with highly engaging cricket."

MCC chief executive Stuart Fox said a review had already identified areas the ground would improve.

"We are continuing to take on board all feedback from players, umpires and cricket bodies regarding the Boxing Day Test pitch," Fox said.

"In consultation with our key stakeholders we have commenced a thorough review of the MCG pitches and processes. This has already led to the identification of measures and actions that will assist us in improving our performance and encourage the development of pitches that contain the unique characteristics that the MCG is known for.

"As an historic cricket venue and club we hold ourselves to a high standard and will be working rigorously to produce pitches that generate entertaining cricket in 2018 and beyond."



The most recent Ashes fixture drew a five-day aggregate of 262,616 people, but the game ended in a draw when both captains agreed a result could not be achieved on a slow, flat pitch that showed no sign of changing in character or appearance throughout the entirety of the match.

According to the criteria employed by ICC match referees as part of their mandatory end-of-match reports, a pitch that "displays little or no seam movement or turn at any stage in the match together with no significant bounce or carry, thereby depriving the bowlers of a fair contest between bat and ball" can be rated as poor.

"The bounce of the MCG pitch was medium, but slow in pace and got slower as the match progressed," Madugalle said in a statement issued by the ICC today.

"The nature of the pitch did not change over the five days and there was no natural deterioration. As such, the pitch did not allow an even contest between the bat and the ball as it neither favoured the batsmen too much nor it gave the bowlers sufficient opportunity to take wickets."

2017-18 International Fixtures

Gillette ODI Series v England

Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Cameron White, Adam Zampa.

England ODI squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

England T20 squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood.

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final TBC, Eden Park, February 21

Visit cricket.com.au/travel for more information