Green top unlikely at MCG, says curator
Australia may have to reconsider unleashing a four-pronged pace attack against India for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne as MCG curator Tony Ware has hinted that the pitch may not seam as much as expected. Ware also went by the recent trend of spinners getting enough purchase through the domestic season, suggesting that Australia play slow bowler Brad Hogg.
"Shane Warne got a five-for on the first day of the Boxing Day Test last year, and we've been getting turn in all the Pura Cup games this year," Ware told the Sunday Age. "The weather is shocking but I still think we'll have a pitch that isn't too greened up."
Hogg was successful against the Indians during Australia's recent tour, picking up 11 wickets in the one-day series. However, his limited experience at the Test level and and the fact that India have played Australian spinners well could work against his selection.
Former fast bowler Glenn McGrath felt that Australia would be better off unsettling India with pace rather than spin. "It's a tough one," McGrath said. "The argument is that the Indians don't like the pace and bounce of Australian wickets, and they play spin regularly. Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson can all bowl at 150kph and Stuart Clark is there to pull it back if needed. It would be a throwback to the West Indies.
"One thing I'll say for Shaun Tait is that he peaks, and when he bowls at the pace he is now, you have to capitalise on it. You have to make the most of it while it's there. I'm sitting on the fence because I also think Brad Hogg deserves to be there."
The persistent rain over the last few days, which washed out India's only warm-up match against Victoria at the Junction Oval near the MCG, had hampered the preparation of the pitch. Ware said at least one day of clear weather was needed to prepare a good wicket.
"In a perfect world we would have 10 days of mild weather before the game, but we've had our Test track under the covers for the last three days and that's not ideal for us. I'm not overly concerned yet. We need a break in the weather, though, so we can get the covers off. We basically need one good day to finish things off. We're at the mercy of the weather."