MCG pitch not good for anyone: Smith
Australia skipper critical of flat wicket after Boxing Day Test peters out to tame draw
31 December 2017, 08:58 AM AEST
If Australia and England were still playing the fourth Magellan Ashes Test on New Year's Day, Steve Smith believes the lifeless MCG pitch would still play the same way it did on Boxing Day.
The flat, slow wicket was widely criticised as an unfit stage for the storied Boxing Day Test match and the Australia skipper joined the chorus of condemnation after the game ended in a draw.
"I think it just needs to do something ... it hasn't changed over five days and I'd say if we were playing for the next couple of days it wouldn't change at all either," Smith said.
"It's got to find a way to have some pace and bounce or take some spin or do something.
"We saw some reverse swing but the ball just gets so soft so quickly because the surface is quite hard.
"It gets soft, doesn't carry through and it's really difficult to get people out.
"I just don't think it's good for anyone."
With the match lacking as a spectacle, Cricket Victoria chief executive Tony Dodemaide went so far as to suggest it might be time to dig up the drop-in wickets and start afresh with new soil and turf.
Ultimate responsibility for the preparation of the MCG wicket falls to venue operators, the Melbourne Cricket Club.
MCC chief executive Stuart Fox defended the preparation of the maligned strip of turf, but conceded it had not performed to expectations.
"While this Test pitch did produce a good contest, it has not contained the bounce and pace that we expected," Fox said.
"As the game progressed, the surface did not deteriorate nor bring the level of unpredictability that was anticipated.
"We review all elements of our performance at the conclusion of every event, and the quality of the pitch is no exception.
"Overall, we remain confident and determined to produce portable wickets that generate entertaining Test cricket."
This year's Test draw was only the second in the past 20 years, but the Victoria Bushrangers have played out three Sheffield Shield draws in three games at the venue this season.
The pitch thwarted England's attempts to get a win on day five, but skipper Joe Root was more forgiving than his counterpart.
"It's not an exact science," Root said of pitch preparation. "As a player all you can do is respond to what's there in front of you and I think we did that.
"Obviously you want to see results and go out and win games, but unfortunately we weren't able to do that."
2017-18 International Fixtures
Magellan Ashes Series
Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Ashton Agar.
England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.
First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard
Second Test Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard
Third Test Australia won by an innings and 41 runs. Scorecard
Fourth Test MCG, drawn. Scorecard
Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets
Gillette ODI Series v England
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
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