The Melbourne Cricket Ground pitch used for the fourth Ashes Test was, on Tuesday, rated “poor” by the International Cricket Council. It’s the first time an Australian Test venue has been rated such. The MCG is a historic venue that hosted the first-ever Test match in 1877.
Match referee Ranjan Madugalle, an ICC release said, submitted his report to the governing body expressing the concerns of the match officials over the performance of the pitch that saw Australia scoring 327 and 263/4 declared, while England piled up 491 in their only innings.
This report has been forwarded to Cricket Australia, who have 14 days to respond.
“The bounce of the MCG pitch was medium, but slow in pace and got slower as the match progressed,” Madugalle is reported to have stated.
“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.”
Australian skipper Steve Smith had also come down hard on the pitch after the Test ended in a tame 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 had said. “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.”
The MCG Test was the last five-day match to be rated under the current ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process. According to the new rules, which will be implemented from Thursday, if a pitch or outfield is rated as being substandard, that venue will be allocated a number of demerit points.
One demerit point will be imposed on the venues whose pitches are rated by the match referees as below average, while three and five demerit points will be sanctioned to venues whose pitches are marked as poor and unfit, respectively.
When a venue accumulates five demerit points, it will be suspended from hosting any international cricket for a period of 12 months, while a venue will be suspended from staging any international cricket for 24 months when it reaches the threshold of 10 demerit points.
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland expressed his disappointment over the rating and promised that the board will ensure such a rating is not repeated.
“We’ll be taking on board advice from the ICC, players and relevant experts to work with the Melbourne Cricket Club to ensure this rating is not repeated,” he was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
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