SCG steadfast against drop-in pitches
Sydney's cricket ground has undergone major redevelopment since the last Ashes Test at the ground, with last-minute work on the new MA Noble and Don Bradman Stands set to go on into the night on match eve. But the SCG curator Tom Parker is adamant that concessions to the demands of multi-sport stadiums will not go so far as to force Sydney to resort to the drop-in pitches now used in Melbourne and Adelaide.
"It's only myself here and Gabba that have traditional pitches," Parker said. "We're a dual purpose ground and it is a mammoth task to change over from AFL to cricket and maintain a first-class pitch. For the characteristics of the SCG, even if you had a drop-in here, you're not going to replicate the centre that's out there at the moment. No I think we're right, the Trust is pretty staunch. Can't say it's never ever going to happen but in near future nothing on the drawing board I can assure you of that."
Parker said the SCG surface for this Test was slightly grassier than usual because a recent Big Bash League fixture had encroached on his preparation time, but expected the strip to offer the sort of balance between ball and bat witnessed in recent summers. A sunny day will encourage batting, while overcast skies may result in the seam-friendly conditions offered to Pakistan on day one in 2010.
"It has a green tinge to this pitch and we had BBL match here on the 29th so we had to limit our preparations so we could ensure if someone ran across this pitch it didn't get damaged in that match," Parker said. "But in saying that beautiful humid, hot day today. Been here for hours on the heavy roller, we've cut that down now at 3mm and we'll be cutting it again and rolling it again so a lot of that greenness will go out of it.
"I anticipate it's going to be very similar to what we've seen here last year. More looking for good, consistent carry to the keeper, should see a bit of bounce in this pitch as well given the amount of grass on it and the mature grass that's on this pitch. It's different to tour match pitch here earlier in the season when we were changing over from AFL and we didn't have as much time.
"If it's overcast and the forecast is for some possible light showers or drizzly rain and if it's like that you may well bowl. And I think you've seen here in the past when it's overcast and cloudy the ball does move around a bit here at the SCG, so we've really got to wait for the day and hopefully it's a bright sunny day."
Parker was one of the nation's groundsmen directed by Cricket Australia at the outset of summer to prepare surfaces less grassy and more reflective of international conditions for the Sheffield Shield. Several curators were unhappy to be dictated to, and Parker stated his own intentions with similar bluntness.
"I prepare a pitch that's fair and just for both teams," he said. "I'm not about preparing pitches for batters or bowlers or any other side."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here