The curators at the MCG are under pressure after the past two Boxing Day Tests.  Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
The curators at the MCG are under pressure after the past two Boxing Day Tests. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

‘Average’: MCG pitch dodges a bullet

THE MCG has been spared from incurring any demerit points under the International Cricket Council's pitch ratings system, graded as an improved "average" mark for the Boxing Day Test.

Already under fire for the wicket dished up for the 2017-18 Ashes Test, which was graded "poor", the drop-in wicket also attracted plenty of heat early in this summer's Test.

However the pitch, which still delievered a result on the fifth day in favour of India, was given the middle-ground ranking of average by ICC match referee Andy Pycroft.

The mark is the same that was controversially given to the new Perth Stadium earlier this summer, despite that pitch pleasing most players and critics for the assistance it offered the bowlers.

Under new ICC rules instated at the start of 2018, pitches that receive a poor rating cop three demerit points or two if deemed "below average".

An "unfit" rating is the lowest and receives five demerit points. Any venue that accrues five demerit points over a rolling five-year period will be unable to host international matches for 12 months.

The MCG was lucky to avoid any such points last summer given its "poor" rating was handed down in December 2017, just days before the new rules were brought into place.

Regardless, it's expected curator Matt Page will again try to revamp the pitch next summer and consider building new drop-in wickets for future Tests once ready in three years' time, after struggling to produce life in recent seasons.

Australia's captain Tim Paine didn't hide his disappointment with the wicket when quizzed following last week's Test.

Tim Paine relishes the challenge. Picture: Julian Smith/AAP
Tim Paine relishes the challenge. Picture: Julian Smith/AAP

"There didn't seem to be a hell of a lot in it from the start," Paine told Macquarie Sports Radio.

"That's been the one disappointment. We've rolled up some wickets here in Australia that have taken away from our strengths, which is pace and bounce.

"You'd like the slips to come into play at some stage, wouldn't you?

"It's a frustration for us. You never go to India and get served up green wickets. They've come out here and we've served some wickets up that really suit them."

News Corp Australia

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