India in Australia 2011-12 December 30, 2011

Sydney pitch likely to resemble last year's

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Sydney's 100th Test pitch should offer plenty to the fast bowlers on the first day, as the curator Tom Parker said he wanted to emulate the surfaces prepared for the previous two New Year's matches, against England and Pakistan.

Each surface was full of life on the first day before settling down and turning later, and Parker said those characteristics epitomised what he has wanted to do with the SCG surface since taking over from Peter Leroy in 1997. Twelve months ago Australia battled to 4 for 134 on a rain-interrupted first day on the way to an innings defeat, while in the first week of 2010 the hosts were bundled out for 127 before recovering to record a dramatic victory over a dysfunctional Pakistan side.

"I was happy with that [pitch for the game against England] and I was happy with the previous year's as well [against Pakistan]," Parker told ESPNcricinfo. "The last two years we've really got it together and it has really come up well. I'm hoping to have a pitch somewhat similar to that.

"That's the ideal scenario and that's what we're aiming for. I don't see why that won't happen. The weather's been kind to me and the forecast is for hot sunny days in the lead-up to the Test and the first couple of days of the Test, so I don't see why it shouldn't be perfect for us."

Parker's expectations will add intrigue to the questions of selection, as Australia mull over the possible inclusion of fast bowler Ryan Harris. Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, has not ruled out the use of four fast bowlers after the quicks did the lion's share of the damage in Melbourne.

As it did last year, Sydney has spent much of spring and summer cloaked in heavy cloud and frequent rain, only occasionally enjoying the sort of sunshine Parker would prefer. But in the lead-up to the New Year's Test the forecast has improved, allowing groundstaff to get some sun onto the wicket and outfield.

"There's been a lot of rain around but we have the covers on as well; we've had a lot of matches up to date and it hasn't affected our preparation too much on the centre," Parker said. "The thing that's been a bit of a downfall for us is the overcast conditions more than the rain.

"The hours of direct sunlight have been fairly minimal on several days, and that's been a bit of a pain as far as grass growth goes. In saying that, the outfield's in tip-top condition, as is the centre square."

The arrival of the centenary Test has coincided with the return of Sydney's more traditional type of pitch, offering help to batsmen, fast bowlers and spinners in equal measure. The often lively surfaces of the 1950s and 60s gave way to slow turners in the 1980s and parts of the 90s, before Parker took on the long-term project of returning the track to its classical attributes.

"That's what I've always aimed for. It has always been my goal to produce pitches with an even coverage of grass and pitches that were going to play consistently over the period of the match. We've got that mix pretty well right now.

"As long as you're going into the match with great preparation and good grass coverage, nice even moisture throughout the pitch, it usually pays off and the pitch will play consistently. I like to pride myself on the pitches playing consistently without the balls being one up and one down. Over the course of the five days the pitch changes and the pitch should change, but as long as it is consistent I'm pretty happy with that."

As for the centenary, Parker is delighted to be preparing pitch No. 100 at the grand old ground. "It is a tremendous honour. Not a day goes by that I don't feel privileged to work here. When you look at the history of the SCG, it is fantastic, and to be a major part of that is a great honour. I'm really looking forward to preparing the 100th Test pitch at the SCG I can assure you."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • t20superstars on January 2, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    I bet you guys that tomorrow when i wake up, am gonna here that Sachin Tendulkar has scored his 100th ton in the 100th match at the SCG...to add to that..there's enough left in the making for this great legendary batsman of all times..!!

  • dummy4fb on January 2, 2012, 14:21 GMT

    @ RandyOZ mate you are living on razor edge love to have opinion battle with u .Yet Three test to go and your numbers are already concluded.Every one Know If Indian Batting Clicks (Hopefully in Sydney) no one in World can save ur Australian Pace batteries,We have dominated McGrath,Gillespiee,Lee,Warne.Johnson etc etc in the Past thats why we edge 12-11 against Aussies since last fifteen years when Ind-Aus series were given Official reclamation as Border-Gavaskar Trophy,The present Crop of pace bowling are doing well but that doesnt means they cant be mastered

  • pprash_2002 on January 2, 2012, 9:20 GMT

    I observed that nowadays test matches are completed in 3-4 days time only.Just see few years before there is more no of tests were drawn,this is bcoz now people are trying to play more shots or fail to tackle the pressure.bcoz of too many 20-20 cricket this situation arises, same away fans attitude is not good as they like more fours& sixes.they dont like good defensive batting like gavaskar,dravid now. we need good defensive players who can stretch the match to the longer period.

  • RandyOZ on January 2, 2012, 5:16 GMT

    We could lay out a minefield and we would still beat India. Shaun Marsh you are on notice.

  • zenboomerang on January 2, 2012, 0:41 GMT

    @Marcio... The 'green' wkts last year were an exception - the La Nina was the strongest for decades, so we had a lot of rain & humidity... We are returning to drier conditions, so we should see more normal conditions in the coming years... I used to get frustrated with curators making pitches that suit the opposition, but realised that I couldn't have it both ways... We have always tried to create a result wkt which is "Australian" - most fans want a result rather than a draw, which of recent times with a weak batting line-up has meant of fair few losses at home... I'd now put up with that in preference to 4 draws any time...

  • Lord_Dravid on January 2, 2012, 0:15 GMT

    @Sheraz Alam...dont make yourself sound unwise by trying to degrade tendulkar a master of this sport. in fact in trying to do so you degrade yourself.

  • dicky_boy on January 1, 2012, 15:58 GMT

    @yorkshire pudding let me assure if we still play one or two grandpas, dhonis whos is the worst test batsman i have ever seen and gambhirin our team , we may even lose a home series, I know that's unlikely but given this oldies policy, I think it's possible Unless dhoni steps down and stops breaking a billion hearts with his irresponsible batting

  • Marcio on January 1, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    Today Mike Hussey said the wicket looked to be LESS green than the SCG wickets in the previous couple of years. So you can scrub out all the comments below, including claims the curator is trying to make a green track to favour the home side. This is one of the things that amazes me about Australia. So often we prepare wickets that favour the opposition - e.g. the green wickets for the English seamers last year. Why don't we just do what they do in other countries and be done with it?

  • YorkshirePudding on January 1, 2012, 14:14 GMT

    @dicky_boy, fair point, so lets look at recent past (since Jan 1995), India against all teams away P96, W24, L34. India in England were 2 wins from 14 tests. England in the same period P95, W27, L33. England in India during the same Period was 1 win from 8 tests. This was during a period when england were at thier worst in regards to players, and selection policy. Both teams are pretty even in thier away form during this period, I admit england have been helped by away results over the last couple of years....I still think its going to be a struggle for england in the Sub-continent. the only team that can really claim to have dominated in the sub-con was the WI's of the late 70's and 80's.

  • dummy4fb on January 1, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    Bowlers get a chance to do well in all three departments, Batman just their batting and close-in fielding. They aren't preferred for the deep fielding positions because of their poor throwing arms. So a batsman who flops in both innnings of a test match that is lost should try to do everything to come up better in the next match or else just voluntarily, ask the team to relieve him for playing in domestic games to revive his batting or get rid of technical flaws. International matches which places country's pride in stake is not a practice bed for returning to form.

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