The International Cricket Council (‘ICC’) has now called the MCG pitch ‘poor’ based on the report by match referee, Ranjan Madugalle. It hasn’t taken the press long to jump all over that with the Age reporting that the MCG pitch produced for the Boxing day Test has become ‘infamous’ because it is the first Australian pitch to be described as poor. If that pitch was poor, then I wonder how pitches prepared on the sub-continent or in England would be described?
One only needs to Google the topic to find descriptions of sub-continent pitches as ‘diabolical’ and ‘a minefield’. One article reported the much vaunted South African Proteas’ batting line-up being skittled for a mere 79 runs with 33 of 40 wickets taken in the match falling to spin. In the 2015 Ashes series, there were complaints that pitches at Trent Bridge and the Oval had been doctored to suit England. In the Trent Bridge Test, Australia made only 60 runs and were all out before lunch on day one.
Certainly the MCC served up nothing as bad as that. The match referee’s rating was driven by his view that the pitch did not allow an even contest between bat and ball. Is that a bad thing? Clearly the ICC thinks so but I think it is much ado about nothing. But the fans didn’t agree as 260,000 spectators watched the Melbourne Test over the full five days.
With the new ICC points system coming in from 1 January 2018, the MCG has dodged being slapped with a three point penalty. Any ground that totals five points over a five year period can be
suspended from being used for ICC matches for one year. Given the past history of Test pitches, it would seem there will be plenty of grounds not seeing Test cricket due to suspension….can the ICC or Cricket Australia afford to suspend a ground that draws a crowd of 260,000? I think not!
What do you think?
The MCG curator must have felt sorry for the English cricket team with the pitch he turned out that was more in keeping with slower English conditions. As I expected, the match ended in a draw with the Aussies retaining a 3-0 lead in this Ashes series.
Since stumps were called yesterday, I have read and listened with interest to the pundits advocating long and loud for a ‘better’ pitch at the MCG. Those making the call include Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland, Cricket Victoria CEO Tony Dodemaide and MCC CEO Stuart Fox. A comment was even provided by the Australian captain Steve Smith. Apparently, the pitch was ‘lifeless’ and needed to provide ‘more variation’. Smith’s observations appear a bit disingenuous given he and his team were batting to save the match and prevent an unlikely England win. I am sure he and the other Australian batsmen were pleased that the ball was bouncing straight and true on day five of the match.
Correct me if I am wrong, but test match cricket has three possible results….a win, loss or draw and, unlike in most other sporting contests, the ‘dead rubber’ matches are still played. While limited over matches have their place in the lexicon of cricket, they should not be used as a yard stick to judge test cricket. They are different games with different expectations. In my opinion, the commentators have been blinded by the hit and giggle of the short form of the game and seem to want all cricket played the same way, finishing with a win or loss.
Having been raised watching five day test matches, I find the battle of wits and skill over the extended period to be a true ‘test’ of ability. It is clearly still a popular form of the game as more than 88,000 flocked to the first day of the MCG test, even though the series had already been decided in Perth the week before. I did read with interest pitch critics saying the pitch was to blame for the fall off in attendance after day one. I think those writers conveniently overlooked the fact that Boxing day was a holiday but many people needed to return to work the next day.
Have a great New Year!