Boxing Day Test crisis as unsafe MCG pitch forces Sheffield Shield match to be abandoned

The Sheffield Shield clash between Victoria and Western Australia at the MCG has been abandoned, plunging the venue into crisis less than three weeks before the summer’s showpiece cricketing event.

Play had been abandoned on Saturday afternoon on day one of the match with WA 3-89 because the pitch was deemed dangerous and unsafe. This was because moisture levels in the strip had been too high.

Ground staff inspected the pitch after play on Saturday.Credit:AAP

After an inspection on Sunday morning before play was to due to resume at 10am, WA captain Shaun Marsh and Victorian counterpart Peter Handscomb agreed the pitch had not improved sufficiently and the match was called off. Match referee Bob Parry and umpires Phil Gillespie and Geoff Joshua had all come to the conclusion on Saturday that the pitch had been unsafe.

The drama has heaped more pressure on ground curator Matt Page and sparked more worries about the pitch to be used in the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand.

The pitch to be used on Boxing Day will be different to the one used in this game, but adds to concerns given the pitch used there for the Ashes Test in 2017 was rated poor by the International Cricket Council and last summer against India had only improved to a rating of average. The middle strip is being prepared for the match against New Zealand.

Melbourne Cricket Club chief Stuart Fox remains confident a good pitch will be delivered for the Test against the Black Caps, at a time whent he venue has invested millions of dollars in upgrading the drop-in pitches, although new surfaces won’t be ready for another couple of years.



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