<
>

MCG pitch under scrutiny ahead of Boxing Day Test

play
'Won't be like Perth, but will have pace' - MCG curator (2:06)

Matt Page offers insights into pitch preparation for the Boxing Day Test (2:06)

Australia coach Justin Langer is hopeful the MCG pitch will provide a genuine contest between bat and ball, something he believes could secure the future of Test cricket.

The nature of the MCG pitch is under intense scrutiny ahead of the Boxing Day Test, with a distinctly green tinge two days out, giving some hope but no guarantee it will prove much livelier than the dull surface that was rated "poor" after last year's draw against England.

"It's great to see some grass," Langer said. "I've played Shield cricket here over last six or seven years, seen the Test here, and I've said forever the most important thing in Test cricket - international cricket - are the pitches.

"If you have great pitches you'll have contest between bat and ball, then Test cricket will be alive and well. If we play on flat wickets then it becomes a really boring game and that's from someone who loves Test cricket.

"Hopefully it's a contest between bat and ball because it's really important, not just for this series but also for world cricket."

ALSO READ: Don't judge MCG pitch by its grass cover - Marcus Harris

After the Ashes Test last summer the MCG curator, Matt Page, oversaw some changes to the block, including the addition of a layer of sand to allow better drainage of moisture and encourage the pitch to become more spin friendly on the later days of the Test.

But Marcus Harris, who made 250 for Victoria at the MCG in a Sheffield Shield match, had earlier told ESPNcricinfo he expected any early liveliness provided by the grass would give way to a slow scoring surface that largely held together.

Meanwhile, Langer, a native of Western Australia who played much of his domestic cricket at the WACA ground, claimed the pitch used for the second Test was the quickest he had ever witnessed in Perth.

The ICC rated the Perth Stadium pitch as "average", a decision that puzzled the Australia coach.

"I was really surprised actually," Langer said. "I guess a couple stayed low. But I thought it was such entertaining Test cricket - that was the fastest pitch I've ever seen in Perth and I've been there a long time.

"I thought it was really exciting Test cricket, got a result on the fifth day. From a personal point of view I love seeing cricket played like that.