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ICC rates MCG pitch as poor after drawn Ashes test

The track drew criticism from both competing teams after Australia scored 327 and 263-4 declared in their two innings while England scored 491 in their only innings.

England's Tom Curran (R) celebrates bowling Australia's batsman Steve Smith (L) on the second day of the fourth Ashes cricket Test match at the MCG in Melbourne on 27 December, 2017.  Picture: AFP

MELBOURNE - The Melbourne Cricket Ground pitch for the fourth Ashes Test has been rated “poor” by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after last week’s drawn clash between hosts Australia and England saw only 24 wickets fall over five days.

The track drew criticism from both competing teams after Australia scored 327 and 263-4 declared in their two innings while England scored 491 in their only innings.

“The bounce of the MCG pitch was medium, but slow in pace and got slower as the match progressed,” match referee Ranjan Madugalle said in his report to the ICC, reflecting the concerns of the match officials over the performance of the pitch.

“The nature of the pitch did not change over the five days and there was no natural deterioration.

“As such, the pitch did not allow an even contest between the bat and the ball as it neither favoured the batsmen too much nor it gave the bowlers sufficient opportunity to take wickets.”

Cricket Australia (CA) has two weeks to respond to the report, the sport’s governing body said in a statement.

CA Chief Executive James Sutherland said CA will strive to avoid a repeat and discuss the matter with the administrators of the ground.

“Such a rating is extremely disappointing for all involved,” Sutherland said. “We work closely with all our venues to encourage the best possible international cricket playing environment.

“We’ll be taking on board advice from the ICC, players and relevant experts to work with the Melbourne Cricket Club to ensure this rating is not repeated.”

The MCG Test was the last to be rated under the ICC’s pitch and outfield monitoring process, with a revision of the process set to come into effect from Thursday.

Under the new process, if a pitch or outfield is rated as being substandard, that venue will be allocated a number of demerit points, which will be active for a five-year period.

“One demerit point will be awarded to venues whose pitches are rated by the match referees as below average, while three and five demerit points will be awarded to venues whose pitches are marked as poor and unfit, respectively,” the ICC said.

“When a venue accumulates five demerit points, it will be suspended from hosting any international cricket for a period of 12 months, while a venue will be suspended from staging any international cricket for 24 months when it reaches the threshold of 10 demerit points.”

The fifth Ashes Test begins in Sydney on Thursday.

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