The MCG is likely to use a fresh pitch for next year’s Boxing Day Test as a stop-gap measure during a five-year rejuvenation plan for the maligned wicket.
Pitch upgrades are expected to cost up to $3 million with the first step ripping up the MCG’s centre square concrete base in March — a two-week process on the eve of the AFL season.
The 12-year-old pitch used for the Boxing Day Test is expected to be retired and an unused pitch, built about four years ago and part of the current centre wicket, is likely to be used.
At least four pitches with a new base formed with a higher percentage of clay, from the Grampians in western Victoria, will be built in the new year, but they won’t be ready for use for at least three years.
The MCG pitch gets rolled before the start of play. Pic: Michael Klein
In the meantime it’s hoped the unused pitch and the replacement of the concrete slab in the middle of the MCG with a concrete post and rail system will improve conditions for next season.
The developments come as a response to a poor pitch rating from the ICC in 2017 and threats of losing the iconic event.
“They’re not different but they’re new, the soil’s fresh, the grass is new,” MCC chief executive Stuart Fox said of the unused pitches.
“We’re expecting these ones to be a lot more lively. They’re brand new — we think we’ll get a more spritely wicket.
“It’s about refresh. We’re very committed to a long-term plan; a bit of patience along the way is needed because you can’t change things overnight. It’s quite a significant rebuild.”
Virat Kohli’s men had no trouble with the wicket. Pic: AAP
Fox said he was nervous about the wicket after a dull day one, but he said the pitch improved and he was “reasonably happy” with how it played.
The MCG will spend more than $50m on other developments next year including a new PA system, to be in place by the end of 2019, and special LED sports lighting in the lighting towers, expected to be ready in time for the 2020 Cricket World Cup.
Source, Images & More: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/