Curator Les Burdett backs MCG and questions need for SCG drop-in


The SCG Trust is reviewing the wicket’s future amid a push from the AFL, which stages games during the winter, for the square’s removal.

The ground’s surface came under scrutiny this year after it hosted extra NRL, Super Rugby and A-League games due to the redevelopment of the adjacent Allianz Stadium.

NSW were forced to move their first home Shield game from the SCG due to damage to the pitch square from a Sydney Roosters training session in the lead-up to the NRL grand final.

The Sheffield Shield game between Victoria and Western Australia at the MCG was abandoned due to safety concerns over the pitch.Credit:AAP

“I think it’s horses for courses. It’s subject to all the traffic. The biggest problem with Sydney is because the football stadium’s gone, they’re playing soccer, rugby union, rugby league and Australian rules,” Burdett, who worked at Adelaide Oval for 40 years and was closely involved with the trust on the drop-in issue, said.

“Everyone’s training and playing on it. It makes it pretty hard for a living organism to grow. It’s all about traffic.”

The new football stadium is expected to be completed in 2022, which would reduce traffic on the SCG pitch.

“That’s the question, isn’t it? All going well, they won’t need it. The other codes go back to the footy stadium, leave the in-ground pitches there,” Burdett said. “So why rush into it?”

Burdett, however, also saw value in being able to transport a pitch.

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“In a perfect world, a cricket lover wants a pitch that sits in the middle. You look at Adelaide with all the football and concerts they host, to have the opportunity to put a pitch on the number two ground and bring it out when you need – it is pretty easy,” Burdett said.

Cricket authorities fear a drop-in pitch would rob the spin-friendly SCG of its characteristics and lead to boring play. The AFL wants a change as it believes it would improve the code as a spectacle. The Swans play 11 home games, plus finals if they qualify, at the SCG, and have a lease until 2047.

National coach Justin Langer said flat pitches were a “huge problem”.

NSW captain Peter Nevill said he was rapt to see spin play a big factor in the Blues’ nine-wicket win over Queensland.

“It’s pleasing to see we’ve got some unique characteristics to the SCG to an extent again,” Nevill said. “I’d love to see the SCG continue to be a spinning wicket and I think the curator needs to be allowed to do so.”

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Burdett has given MCG curator Matt Page the thumbs up in preparing a satisfactory surface for the Boxing Day Test.

The abandoned Shield game between Victoria and Western Australia prompted fears the Test would be moved. Burdett, however, dismissed those suggestions.

“That’s all huff and puff, isn’t it,” Burdett said. “I never say 100 per cent but I’m 99.99 per cent sure everything will be fine. It’s only prevailing [weather] conditions that can give poor old Pagey any problems.”

Burdett said the removal of the concrete slab on which the MCG drop-in used to rest – it now rests on sand – would help create a more sporting wicket.

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