Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth January 13, 2012

'Traditional' pitch drinks caught on camera

The pitch for the third Test at the WACA ground was the scene of staff drinks on match eve, in an apparent stretching of ICC regulations surrounding the playing surface.

WACA ground staff and support staff have traditionally enjoyed pre-match drinks under the scoreboard, but the curator Cameron Sutherland sought to make a last check of the surface about 7.30pm local time, and the rest of the party followed him.

They were captured on camera by an Indian television network standing and sitting on the Test match strip, beers in hand. Graeme Wood, the WACA chief executive, explained the event and said at no stage was the surface in danger of damage.

"It's a traditional event," Wood told ESPNcricinfo. "The groundstaff have put an enormous amount of work in at getting the wicket and the ground up to a magnificent state.

"Some of the support staff and groundstaff that were still here at the ground at 8 o'clock just ventured out on to the ground to salute Cam and the guys and we've done it for the last five years.

"Cam was out there supervising. He was there the whole time. He's one of the most passionate guys I've ever known in regards to pitch preparation. I'm sure once the ICC have had a look at it this morning and we hand it over to them we'll have a magnificent Test wicket."

The ICC's Standard Test Match Playing Conditions state that "the ground staff shall ensure that during the period prior to the start of play and during intervals, the pitch area shall be roped off so as to prevent unauthorised access. (the pitch area shall include an area at least 2 metres beyond the rectangle made by the crease markings at both ends of the pitch)."

In cases of any dispute over the preparation of the surface or access to it, the ICC match referee is empowered to deliberate. The match referee for the Perth Test is the Sri Lankan Ranjan Madugalle.

However, Sutherland said on ABC Radio that it was his choice as curator what to do with the pitch prior to the toss.

"Up until the toss of the coin we can do anything we want to the wicket," Sutherland said. "I shouldn't say it but we could be out there this morning if we wanted to. That's our prerogative, to get a surface which we think will [produce] good Test cricket."

Sutherland defended his staff and said they had been working on the pitch late into the evening.

"I was the one that removed covers, I was out doing the work initially and a couple of my staff came out and joined me," he said. "We were the ones that were lying on the pitch and that seems to be the issue. Well yeah, we were working on it.

"We had a bit of an issue when the Adelaide Strikers warmed up on it [before the] T20 game on Sunday, which they weren't supposed to. So we were just looking at the aesthetics of it. It's too hard to do it on the morning of the game or the day before when they are doing all their markings."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo