The MCG is under fire with a Boxing Day Test just around the corner.
The MCG is under fire with a Boxing Day Test just around the corner.

Crash: MCG far from the hallowed turf it’s made out to be

Enough is enough. The MCG has been a protected species for too long.

In an age where several states have splurged hundreds and millions of dollars to stay on pace in the race to host Test matches, how unfair is it that the ground with the worst Test deck in the country gets the plum date of every summer?

It won't change but it should.

 

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Each year the MCG produces a poor Test deck, we do stories about urgent reviews and new global technologies making things better next season - then nothing changes.

Test ground rankings should never be set in stone.

Some grounds improve (Adelaide). Some fade (the Gabba). Some sprout up from nowhere (Perth's Optus Stadium). The age of automatic entitlement should be over - but it's not.

The MCG is a ground we all love, but that's part of the problem because romance rules reality.

Much like commentator Bill Lawry, many Melbourne officials have an inner orgasm when 70,000 turn up to watch the opening day of the Boxing Day Test then something really deflating happens ... they have to start the game.

Last season against India Tim Paine was taking balls knee height in the second over of the match, at which point the journalist beside me in the box said "this is over already ... they'll make 500.''

Shaun Marsh checks his helmet after being clobbered by a Peter Siddle delivery on Saturday.
Shaun Marsh checks his helmet after being clobbered by a Peter Siddle delivery on Saturday.

He was close. They made 7 dec-443 in an innings which spanned a marathon 170 overs, just under two days worth of cricket.

 

The pitch was rated "average'' by the ICC, barely and improvement on it's "poor'' ranking the year before.

Who seriously gives a toss about a 70,000 crowd if it's a dud game of cricket?

The MCG's pitch problem is not a new event and it stretches back through the eras.

One of the reasons a mentally frazzled Greg Chappell directed the underarm incident against New Zealand was he was at wits end of a draining season which included an ongoing dispute with MCG officials over the poor state of their match and practice decks.

Victoria used to have a proud heritage of producing blue chip Test batsman like Ian Redpath, Keith Stackpole, Neil Harvey, Lindsay Hassett, Colin McDonald and Bill Ponsford.

 

Last year’s Boxing Day Test wicket came under close scrutiny.
Last year’s Boxing Day Test wicket came under close scrutiny.

Yet since Dean Jones tumbled off the production line nearly four decades ago not one long-lasting Test batsman has followed him.

This is a stunning statistic and there is a feeling MCG decks of a variety of ilks have played a part in it.

It's got to the point where not one of Australia's top 19 run-scorers in Test cricket played exclusively in Victoria.

One reason why the MCG deck has not improved is that it never been fully challenged by senior Cricket Australia officials, many of whom are from Melbourne and grew up with a reverential admiration of the ground.

They just didn't have the courage to call it out because to them it would have been as uncomfortable as a parisher criticising their local church.

To them, suggesting the MCG should lose the Boxing Day Test would be as irreverent as calling for Dennis Walter to be axed from Carols By Candlelight. Some things are just set in stone.

 

Dean Jones was the last long-lasting Victorian Test batsman.
Dean Jones was the last long-lasting Victorian Test batsman.

Can you imagine if Perth or Brisbane had to stop a Sheffield Shield match a couple of week's out from a Test?

The worry with the drama over this Sheffield Shield game is that it will cause an allergic reaction that will result in the MCG having the sort of deck it least needs - a super flat, featureless son of a pitch that plays is if it is a transported version of St Kilda Road.

The last recourse of every desperate ground-staff - and that is what they are - is to roll the sweet bippy out of the deck to ensure it plays safely and soundly and bores us all to tears.

The only concussion tests this Test match will be from fans falling off their chairs after dozing off.

Umpires discuss their decision to abandon play on day one on Saturday with officials.
Umpires discuss their decision to abandon play on day one on Saturday with officials.
News Corp Australia


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