The pitch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in the past few years. After having earned a poor rating from the International Cricket Council during the 2017 Test between England and Australia, the pitch at the iconic venue has been a source of debate for pundits as well as the administrators in Australia.
And, the recent turn of events could well have a bearing on the upcoming Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand. Thanks to dangerous pitch in the ongoing Marsh Sheffield Shield encounter between Victoria and Western Australia, the game was abandoned after a series of deliveries reared up to dangerous levels and struck Western Australia batsmen on their body on the opening day.
At the time when the game was called off, the visitors had accumulated 3-89 after 40 overs. After a plethora of balls hit the batsman, the on-field umpires were involved in a lengthy conversation with captains Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh along with chief curator Matt Page, after all-rounder Marcus Stoinis was struck by a ball from bowler Andrew Fekete.
Western Australia captain Shaun Marsh was himself struck multiple times during his 57-ball 14. That delivery by Andrew Fekete proved to be the final straw and the first day was officially called off later in the afternoon.
Boxing Day Test under the scanner
Saturday’s incident will be a major headache for Cricket Australia considering the fact that the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand is just three weeks away. Following the 2017 debacle in the Ashes Test where the pitch was rated ‘poor’ by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and then bumped to ‘average’ during last summer’s Test against India.
As far as the playing conditions of Sheffield Shield are concerned, if an abandoned game can’t be rescheduled or relocated, points will be split between the two sides. Visiting sides in abandoned games were awarded six points.
But, after visiting team- Victoria- were awarded the full points when one of the Shield fixtures was abandoned due to dangerous outfield at the Sydney Cricket Ground back in 2015, Cricket Australia proceeded to change the rules from the next season.
Hence, in case the game gets abandoned, both Western Australia and Victoria will get three points each along with “the average total bonus points that were accumulated per team across the other two matches played in the round of the abandoned match”.
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