The challenge confronting MCG staff has been laid bare by a frank assessment of the Test pitch in Perth, which was formally branded average by match referee Ranjan Madugalle.
The International Cricket Council (ICC), desperate to improve the standard of pitches around the world, introduced a disciplinary system at the start of the year.
Venues producing decks deemed ’unfit’ are given five demerit points, ’poor’ pitches are given three points and ’below average’ strips are given a single point.
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A ground receiving five demerit points over a rolling five-year period will be banned from hosting any internationals for 12 months.
AAP understands Madugalle, the ICC’s chief match referee, gave the lowest possible pass mark to the pitch produced for the second Test between Australia and India.
Madugalle was also responsible for the rating of ’poor’ given to the MCG a year ago, a grading that raised fewer eyebrows at Cricket Australia given it followed a Boxing Day bore draw on an incredibly docile drop-in deck.
The guidelines hadn’t come into effect for that match but the threat of the MCG being stripped of the Boxing Day Test is now in play.
Two of the past four MCG Tests have resulted in draws, with curator Matt Page working hard to inject some life into flat pitches that have copped widespread criticism.
Page had the covers on Friday afternoon.
Further rain is forecast on Saturday before both teams get their first look at the pitch, which will shape Mitch Marsh’s hopes of a recall, on Sunday.
Madugalle was in charge of the first half of the four-Test series between Australia and India, locked at 1-1, but Andy Pycroft will be match referee at the MCG and SCG.
The verdict is presumably related to the uneven bounce that resulted in a couple of nasty blows.
Aaron Finch retired hurt after his right glove was struck by a Mohammed Shami delivery that caused sufficient damage for bone to be visible.
There were no public complaints from either camp and broader commentary about the Perth wicket was almost entirely positive.
“Anyone who says there’s anything wrong with that wicket, they must’ve been watching a different game,” Australia coach Justin Langer said earlier this week.
India captain Virat Kohli noted before the match the pitch is “something we’re very excited about”.
Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) chief Christina Matthews, speaking during the Test, described the pitch as “an outstanding success”.