Officials suspend play at the MCG over the unsafe pitch.
Officials suspend play at the MCG over the unsafe pitch.

Fears heightened for Boxing Day Test

THE Sheffield Shield match at the MCG between Victoria and WA was abandoned on Sunday after attempts by ground staff to make the pitch playable for day two failed.

A day of drama unfolded on Saturday when play was called off midway through the second session because of fears for the players' safety.

WA batsmen Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis both required concussion tests after being hit by deliveries from Victorian quick Peter Siddle that reared unexpectedly.

Stoinis also took a nasty blow to the ribs after misjudging a delivery from Andrew Fekete.

Marsh and Stoinis were cleared of concussion.

Too much moisture in the drop-in wicket led to divots, which hardened under the sun, creating uneven bounce and danger for the batsmen.

Curator Matt Page and his ground staff attempted to even out the deck and make it playable after the embarrassing situation unfolded.

However, match officials determined on Sunday that the pitch was still too dangerous.

It was another blow for the maligned MCG pitch, which has been criticised as being too docile in recent years and received unfavourable ICC ratings.

MCC CEO Stuart Fox defended his ground staff in a statement released on Saturday night.

"Over the last 12 months, our curators, supported by key stakeholders including Cricket Australia, have made a concerted effort in making improvements to the standard of the MCG wickets to ensure there's enough in them for both bat and ball," Fox said.

Shaun Marsh after being hit from a delivery that kicked up off the pitch.
Shaun Marsh after being hit from a delivery that kicked up off the pitch.

"While it's unfortunate that play was suspended today, the previous two Sheffield Shield matches held at the 'G this summer have been held without incident and have seen a result in the first match and a draw in the second with significant rain delays contributing to that outcome.

"Our broader plan is to continually make improvements to the wickets to allow for pace, bounce and lateral movement and we're confident about our preparations leading into the upcoming Boxing Day Test."

The strip being used in the Shield match is not the one being prepared for Australia's Test against New Zealand.

WA had reached 3-89 before play was called off, with left-handed opener Jake Carder (44) carving out a solid innings in difficult batting conditions. Carder fell victim to Siddle (3-21), who was Victoria's most damaging bowler.

News Corp Australia


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