MCG installs first of four new wickets

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The MCG has a new weapon that officials hope will ensure any talk of below-average Test pitches becomes a thing of the past.

Curator Matt Page has installed the first of four new wickets, all built from scratch in the MCG nursery in the wake of the horror 2017 Boxing Day Ashes Test that ended with a “poor” rating from the match referee.

Last year’s Test pitch earned rave reviews and the conditions of the Boxing Day wicket have been on an upward trend since Page took over, with significant works undertaken in recent summers.

Cricket returns to the MCG this week for the first time since last summer when Victoria takes on NSW in a Sheffield Shield match.

Page revealed the first new pitch was ready for action, built from special new clay.

It won’t be used this week, or be ready for Boxing Day this year, with the same pitch used for the last two MCG Tests to be in action again.

But Page said testing of the new wickets in practice areas had shown them to be exactly what they want to see in a Test match wicket.

“Two years ago we said we were going to build the new pitches with a different sort of clay, and then that comes back to our overall goal of a long format pitch with pace and bounce early, then it becomes easier to bat, then as the game goes on we get some deterioration and bring the spinners in at the back end. We want to give everyone a chance,” Page said.

“We built a couple of practice pitches in the nets, there’s some optimistic signs there. Now we need to roll one out and test it in some match conditions and see what it does. The things we’ve seen, they do crack, they do have some pace and bounce.

“We’ve improved over the last couple of years, we’re not entirely where we want to be yet, but we are heading in the right direction, which is the key.”

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