ICC rates MCG pitch as 'poor'

Calcutta: The ICC rated the MCG pitch for the fourth Ashes Test between Australia and England as "poor" under its Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process, said a release from the game's governing body on Tuesday.

Ranjan Madugalle, match referee of that Test, had submitted his report to the ICC expressing the concerns of the match officials over the performance of the surface on which Australia scored 327 and 263 for four declared, with England scoring 491 in their only innings.

Cricket Australia (CA) has been given 14 days' time to respond, the ICC release added.

"The bounce of the MCG pitch was medium, but slow in pace and got slower as the match progressed. The nature of the pitch did not change over the five days and there was no natural deterioration.

"As such, the pitch did not allow an even contest between the bat and the ball as it neither favoured the batsmen too much nor it gave the bowlers sufficient opportunity to take wickets," Madugalle was quoted as saying.

Chief executive James Sutherland said the CA will strive to avoid a repeat and discuss the matter with the administrators of the ground. "Such a rating is extremely disappointing for all involved," Sutherland said.

"We work closely with all our venues to encourage the best possible international cricket-playing environment. We'll be taking on board advice from the ICC, players and relevant experts to work with the Melbourne Cricket Club to ensure this rating is not repeated," Sutherland said.

The MCG game was the last Test to be rated under the current ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process, with a revised process coming into effect in men's and women's international cricket from Thursday, following the conclusion of the New Zealand versus West Indies T20I series which ends in Mount Maunganui on Wednesday.

"The major change in the revised ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process is to the sanctioning system for venues which present substandard conditions for international matches. If a pitch or outfield is rated as being substandard, that venue will be allocated a number of demerit points.

"One demerit point will be awarded to venues whose pitches are rated by the match referees as below average, while three and five demerit points will be awarded to venues whose pitches are marked as poor and unfit, respectively. When a venue accumulates five demerit points, it will be suspended from hosting any international cricket for a period of 12 months, while a venue will be suspended from staging any international cricket for 24 months when it reaches the threshold of 10 demerit points.

"Demerit points will remain active for a rolling five-year period," the release said.

If such a ban is imposed on the MCG, it would cover all international matches include the Boxing Day Test, an annual tradition for more than 20 years at a ground which hosted cricket's historic first Test match in 1877.

It is expected - based on historic precedent - that the MCG will be issued with a warning rather than a financial penalty, considering the 'poor' rating is the first for an Australian Test venue.


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