Ashes 2010/11- The tale of the MCG “pitch switch”

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Ashes 2010/11- The tale of the MCG “pitch switch”
The Australian media have been speculating about a dramatic switch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), earlier this week, for the Boxing Test scheduled to begin from 26th December. The all important fourth Test match in the Ashes series will
be a decisive one, when both the sides would be eyeing a win in a bid to regain or retain the urn.
However, after Australia’s thrashing of England in the third Test, the Aussies are apparently attempting to catch them on the hop again, with replicating the bouncy surface of Perth at the MCG. Australia won at the Cricket Association Ground
(WACA) at Perth, by 267 runs, as Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson wreaked havoc in the batting line up of Andrew Strauss’s army.
The ground’s curator, Cameron Hodgkins apparently had agreed with Cricket Australia to “abandon the surface” that was originally being prepared for the fourth Test, as it was “too dry” for Ricky Ponting and his men. The MCG, which is potentially the largest
sports stadium in the world has drop in wickets. The “Drop-In” portable cricket wicket technology enables the wickets to be fully prepared off the ground and is transported to the ground, to be put in place for a cricket match. The point of these pre-prepared
strips of wickets is that the venue could be used to host other events and sports. The cricket wicket is dropped in the central field area and when there are other events to be staged, the wicket is replaced by a rugby tray or other multi-sport events like
the Olympics.
The MCG curator was being accused of giving himself in to the selectors’ wish of preparing a favourable pitch. It certainly fits the glove as last year the grounds-man, Bill Gordon was also rumoured to have deliberately doctored the Brit Oval pitch
to suit the Englishmen. Hodgkins and his team were seen covering the pitch with a better turf of grass ahead of the Boxing Day. However, the MCG curator finally spoke up saying that the decision of bringing in new turf was a “personal one” that he chose to
take before the result of the third Test was unfolded. He downplayed the role of the selection panel orders, to bring some life into the otherwise dull pitch saying,
 “A few people would like to believe that was the situation, but the last time I spoke to Cricket Australia was in the middle of winter.”
The few people he mentioned in his statement might be the English media, who have been speculating about the potential sabotage to their bid to retain the Ashes trophy and their pride. Yet, this is the beauty of the Ashes. The first Test match ended up in
a stalemate; however it was clearly dominated by England’s fight-back to Peter Siddle’s onslaught of six wickets. The glories of the second Test match are already mentioned by the scribe and the news mills were churning out rolls of parchment, on how bad the
Kangaroos are and how good the Queen’s men were. So the news of a potential switching of the pitch sent out a buzz in the English media, who are looking forward to the clash of the titans on the Boxing Day, especially on a pitch that perfectly suits English
spinner Graeme Swann.
However, the whole “pitch switch” dilemma is a bit far stretched especially by the British tabloid that have a thing of sensationalizing everything beyond imagination. Of course, Australia has the right to tweak the pitch to suit their conditions. That is
the point of playing at home and having a home advantage which was aptly put by England’s opener Alastair Cook, who shrugged the whole hoopla before the Boxing Day.
The Boxing Day looks all set to roll with the weather predicted to be promising and the ticket sales jumping up to 80,000 plus. The anticipated fourth Test match will be marked in history as the greatest occasion and the excitement of the Aussie and Poms
will be at fever pitch by the time the first ball is bowled. For the time being, the media must stop scrutinizing the pitch and play along with the spirit of Christmas.



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