The stakes are high for CA and the Melbourne Cricket Club, as a rating of “unfit” from the ICC brings with it a 12-month venue ban on international cricket ahead of a year in which the MCG is set to host a Test between Australia and India as well as finals of both the men’s and women’s Twenty20 World Cups.
However speaking at Junction Oval on Wednesday, Roberts said the preparation of the Boxing Day pitch was coming on well, with the CA boss optimistic about a competitive deck for the clash between the Australians and the Black Caps.
“The preparation of that specific pitch started around last weekend, and we can expect more grass on that wicket than we’ve seen over the last couple of Boxing Day Tests, and we’re really appreciative of the work that Matt Page the head curator is doing,” Roberts said.
“Also the calmness of Stuart Fox, the CEO of the MCC in this situation, no one’s overreacting to the unfortunate situation a week or two ago.
“But other than that, the last few games, the condition of pitches at the MCG has been on a significant [upward trend] over the last period of time since Matt, and the team took the concrete base out from under the pitches and replaced it with sand.
“The feedback from the curators is that it feels different to roll, the feedback from players is that it feels different and even sounds different to play on. It sounds like proper turf now rather than something that’s more like a concrete deck, so we’re really optimistic about Boxing Day.”
Roberts said CA had learned plenty from the Shield debacle but stressed that he was hopeful Page and his team wouldn’t revert to a flat wicket for the showpiece event.
“We’re really keen to ensure that the MCC doesn’t overreact to the situation in the last game. The great news was that no players were injured in that situation. We learned a lot from it. And they’re not overreacting.
“And, Matt Page is a master of his craft and we’re really looking forward to him expressing that with his team … so we’re confident that there won’t be an overreaction, and that will see a better balance between bat and ball at the MCG.”