New MCC team to deliver Boxing Day pitch

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With the Boxing Day test coming up to round out what has been an incredible Ashes series, everyone is intrigued to see what sort of pitch will be delivered at the MCG.

While the Aussie’s are a sure-thing to win, everyone is still intrigued to see what the MCG turf team will deliver, after curator David Sandurski moved back to his home-state of Brisbane to take over the top job at the Gabba in October this year. The capable team at the MCG are now being led by Michael Salvatore, the MCC’s Arena and Operations Manager.

“Although we are disappointed to see David depart, we are confident that our extensive arenas team will be more than equipped to deliver first-class wickets for the upcoming summer of cricket at the MCG,” said MCC General Manager Facilities, Peter Wearne.

As every cricket fan knows, the pitch can have a huge impact on the game – and how the pitch is rolled is crucial to how it plays.

According to John Shannon’s Basic Guide to Turf Cricket Pitch Preparation, Cricket pitches’ should be prepared hard and flat to produce a good playing surface.

“The aim is to have a pitch that offers assistance to the batsman and the bowlers. For this to occur, we need a surface that offers pace and bounce. Slow pitches are difficult for the batsman to play shots on and offer no assistance to the bowler.

“To achieve a fast surface we need an even coverage of grass and then we compact the wicket through rolling. Evaporation will dry the surface of the pitch and the turf grass roots will assist in drying the pitch deeper down in the profile. This is needed to create a pitch with pace and bounce.

“Pitches with little or no turf grass cover tend to only dry on the surface and not at depth. These pitches will not allow compaction to depth and will usually produce slow low pitches that will only last for one to two days play. They will be OK for the first few games of the season if you have limited time to renovate and prepare the pitches after football season.

“Wickets prepared at the start of the season are difficult to prepare with bounce due to cool weather conditions in and around Melbourne and usually minimal grass cover.

“Cricket pitch preparation goes against most of the standard turf management practices. For example, compacting soils and cutting the turf very short are not desirable turf management practices. In pitch preparation, compaction and closely mown turf are needed to produce a good pitch that is hard and fast. We need to let the pitch recover after games and change to another pitch due to these practices.

Cricket pitch preparation is an enjoyable and important role. Good pitches promote the game and develop good cricketers.”

Like most premium grounds in Australia, the MCG uses Mentay rollers, the industry standard for cricket pitch rollers.

When speaking to Maureen Menhennet of Mentay, she explained that the rollers originally came to life out of a bet made by her husband, founder Maurie Menhennet.

“The President of the Ballarat Cricket Association at the time, Rex Hollioake, brought a roller in to us to get it fixed. While working on it, Maurie said to Rex that he could make a better roller than the one he was fixing.

“Rex replied ‘well, big mouth go ahead and do it then!’ So, the bet was made and that’s how the Mentay roller came to be.”

With an expert team and premium quality equipment like Mentay rollers, it’s no doubt this year’s Boxing Day test pitch will be an absolute belter. Go Aussies!