Cricket Australia (CA) sought to allay pitch concerns for the Boxing Day test against New Zealand after the surface at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) was deemed unsafe to continue a Sheffield Shield match on Saturday.
Western Australia batsmen Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis sustained several blows to the body struggling to adjust to the unpredictable bounce of the surface in the contest against Victoria.
Umpires Phillip Gillespie and Geoff Joshua initially asked the groundstaff to roll the pitch but eventually abandoned the opening day’s play after consulting the players and head groundsman Matt Page.
CA subsequently issued a statement, saying it would work with ground staff to ensure the best possible wicket at the MCG for their trans-Tasman rivals.
Its Head of Cricket Operations Peter Roach said he was disappointed at the suspension of play at a venue where two other Sheffield Shield matches went without any incident.
“Matt Page and the MCG groundstaff have more than two weeks to ensure the test surface, which is a different pitch strip to the one being used in this match,” Roach said.
“We will seek to better understand the issues that resulted in variable bounce at the MCG on Saturday. We will also work closely with MCG groundstaff in the lead up to the test match.”
Match referee Bob Parry with the latest on the MCG pitch pic.twitter.com/RBxMv8qnh8
— Alister Nicholson (@AlisterNicho) December 7, 2019
The MCG pitch, which produced a dull draw in the 2017 Boxing Day Ashes test against England, received a ‘poor’ rating from the governing International Cricket Council.
Last year’s pitch against India earned an ‘average’ rating even though the tourists took 20 wickets to comprehensively win the match.
Umpires will inspect the pitch on Sunday morning with play scheduled to begin 30 minutes early, CA added.