Australia v Pakistan 2004-05 November 9, 2004

MCG could lose Boxing Day Test

Cricinfo staff

The Telstra Dome is on standby to host the Boxing Day Test after fears the MCG will not be ready following heavy rain that has delayed its reconstruction. Cricket Victoria have taken the radical step of offering an alternative to the traditional venue, which is due to host the second Australia-Pakistan Test in seven weeks.

Ken Jacobs, the Cricket Victoria chief executive officer, said they had put the Dome - a purpose-built AFL stadium - on notice as a precaution. "We will continue to monitor the program of works at the ground with the Melbourne Cricket Club over the coming weeks," he said. "A decision regarding the suitability of the ground will not be made for some weeks."

However, Tony Ware, the MCG's curator, said it would be ready despite more than 120mm of rain in the past two weeks turning the surface into a bog. "We lost a few days last week with wet weather," Ware told the Herald Sun. "We are ahead in some areas, we are behind in some areas, on balance we are about where we thought we should be."

Ware said the picture would be clearer in another week but more heavy rain would delay the project. "Re the question of the Boxing Day Test, we don't have too many major concerns at this stage," he said.

Stephen Gough, the Melbourne Cricket Club chief executive, said the extra rain was unwanted but the work was on schedule. "I think we're okay, but in all good planning arrangements you've got to have a back up, and Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria certainly wanted to have that if something went wrong," he told ABC Online.

Since the AFL grand final in September a 70cm slope has been removed in order to have the surface ready for the 2006 Commonwealth Games track and field competition. The pitches will be dropped in once the levelling is completed.

The ground is the only one in Melbourne used for Test cricket and hosted the first match between Australia and England in 1877. Since then it has been used for a further 95 Tests and 117 one-day internationals.

Australia first played at the Telstra Dome, which has a retractable roof, in a three-match exhibition series against South Africa in 2000 and two years later faced Pakistan in two matches. The opening game of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy between Australia and New Zealand will be held there on December 5.