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Australia vs India Boxing Day Test: Fresh concerns for ‘flat’ MCG wicket

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The thrilling contest between bat and ball seen in the Border-Gavaskar series is expected to come to a grinding halt on Boxing Day when the Test show heads east to the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Melbourne has hard acts to follow after the first and second Tests in Adelaide and Perth delivered enthralling matches that were both decided on day five and featured no declarations.

History is against the venue as well, with its crescendo of criticism reaching a climax last year when only 24 wickets were taken in an Ashes bore-draw.

That match saw the MCG officially put on notice by the International Cricket Council for its “poor” pitch.

The MCG has since attempted to make its deck more lively but recent evidence suggests it will be a far more batsman-friendly venue than Perth.

There have been five centuries scored in three MCG matches this Sheffield Shield season, headlined by Marcus Harris’ unbeaten 250 that sealed his Test call-up.

Glenn Maxwell earlier this month played against Western Australia in a four-day game at the MCG that ended in a dull draw. He said the match should ring alarm bells for the curators.

“I think there would be concerns (for Boxing Day),” Maxwell told the Herald Sun.

“Especially with the way the Shield wicket played. It did not deteriorate at all. It probably got flatter — it got better to bat on in day four.”

His opponent Ashton Turner – who finished the match unbeaten on 63 – agreed with Maxwell and said it would be hard to get a Test result from the pitch.

“It was still a really flat wicket. Batting on day four was no trouble. It pretty much did get better (to bat on) — and it wasn’t hard on day one.”

It’s understood that curator Matt Page experimented with the wicket during that game and is likely to revert its condition to what it was for the MCG’s first two Shield games this season.

The first match saw Victoria win by an innings, while the second was a draw with 32 wickets taken.

“I assume there’ll be a little bit more grass on it (for Boxing Day),” Victoria native Aaron Finch said this week.

“I haven’t played a Shield game there but the boys said there has been a little bit more grass on it and it’s seamed around a little bit but it’s still been on the slower side.

“I don’t expect that to change a hell of a lot. They’re still the same drop-ins from the last 10 or 12 years … I’m sure they’re trying a different method though.”

 

Published by Jacob Polychronis, 20th December 2018 on foxsports.com.au

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