MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia’s batting mainstay Steve Smith is confident the Boxing Day test against New Zealand will be played on a safe, quality pitch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and does not want the venue to lose the marquee fixture over surface concerns.
A Sheffield Shield match at the MCG was abandoned on Sunday because of a dangerous pitch with several Western Australia batsmen sustaining blows to the body from deliveries that reared up at them.
Cricket Australia said a different pitch had been earmarked for the second test against New Zealand starting on Dec. 26 but they will still work with MCG curator Matt Page to ensure it was of international standards.
“He’s a good curator and he’ll be doing what he can to get us a good wicket for Boxing Day,” Smith told reporters in Perth on Monday.
“Then I guess they have another year to work on their wickets to give us an even contest for bat and ball, that’s what we want to see.”
A lifeless MCG pitch received a “poor” rating from the governing International Cricket Council in 2017 while last year’s surface against India was rated “average” even though the tourists took 20 wickets to comprehensively win the match.
Irrespective of the negative ratings, Smith would like the marquee match to stay at the hallowed venue.
“I’d love for it to stay, it’s part of the tradition of Australian cricket for a long time,” said the 30-year-old.
“I’ve had some of my great memories of cricket walking out there on Boxing Day, listening to the anthems, you get kind of a shiver down your spine.
“The Boxing Day test in Melbourne is something I look forward to every year. It’s a great occasion and I would love for Melbourne to keep it.”
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Himani Sarkar)