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Smith: Gabba pitch 'most difficult in Australia'

All eyes will be on the Melbourne pitch which is expected to be less lively than last year

Steven Smith has labelled the Gabba green-top as the toughest pitch he has played on in Australia and is hoping conditions at the MCG will be more suited to batting.
South Africa were smashed in Brisbane as 34 wickets tumbled in just two days to open the blockbuster series, making it the shortest Test on Australian soil in 91 years.
The ICC took a dim view to the game lasting just six sessions, with match referee Richie Richardson grading the Gabba pitch as "below average", and saying it was "not an even contest between bat and ball."
Even though Australia went 1-0 up with a six-wicket triumph, Smith wants to see batters given more help during the Boxing Day Test.
"As a batter I'd like it to do a little bit less," he said in Melbourne on Wednesday. "I think it's a fine balance just trying to get that even contest between bat and ball. It [the Gabba] was probably the most difficult wicket I've played on here in Australia."
South Africa captain Dean Elgar slammed the pitch as dangerous in his post-match press conference and asked umpires during the last session if it would be deemed unsafe to continue playing on. Smith conceded there were moments during the match when he was taken by surprise.
"I think there were a few instances that the ball did some stuff that was just out of nowhere," Smith said. "Some balls were sitting in the wicket, making divots, some were zinging through and it was just incredibly hard to bat again. Whether it was unsafe or not, it's not really my place to judge, but it certainly wasn't easy to bat."
Cricket Australia's head of cricket operations Peter Roach has accepted the ICC's assessment, conceding the Gabba pitch too heavily favoured fast bowling.
"We encourage all our matches to look at how do we make the right balance over it going deep into the fourth day," Roach told reporters. "We say that not being disappointed when a match goes into the fifth day; late on the fourth day gives a chance the game to go a bit further."
Last year's Boxing Day Test ended before lunch on the third day as Scott Boland famously tore through England's batting line-up in the second innings with 6-7 on debut.
But it was only five years ago when the MCG was slapped with a "poor" rating following a dull draw in which only 24 wickets were taken over five days.
Roach said MCG curator Matt Page would not be changing his preparations based on what happened at the Gabba.
Smith looked slightly puzzled when told there would be no message from CA to make it more batter-friendly at the MCG said it all.
"[Last year's MCG Test] went three days, was a difficult weekend and this year we've again got two really good bowling attacks so we'll sum up the conditions and try to play accordingly," Smith said.