Last year’s Ashes Test netted 1081 runs and just 24 wickets. Picture: Nicole Garmston
Last year’s Ashes Test netted 1081 runs and just 24 wickets. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Fresh fears for Boxing Day snooze-fest

Leading batsmen have expressed fresh concerns over the MCG's Boxing Day pitch following last year's Ashes snooze-fest.

Less than a week until Australia and India renew hostilities, and with the series locked at 1-1, the pitch has been labelled "flat" and "worrying".

Glenn Maxwell said the pitch "did not deteriorate at all" in the dull Victoria-Western Australia draw 10 days ago and the MCG is already in the gun after last year's Boxing Day bore.

WA batsman Ashton Turner ended the Sheffield Shield match 63 not-out (145 balls) and said it would be "really hard to get a Test result next week" on a similar wicket.

"I think there would be concerns (for Boxing Day)," Maxwell told the Herald Sun.

"Especially with the way the Shield wicket played. It did not deteriorate at all. It probably got flatter - it got better to bat on in day four.

"You've only got to look at the way that Ashton Turner and Marcus Stoinis were able to pretty calmly play out a pretty good bowling attack, and a bowling attack that's been very successful over the last few years.

"They did it pretty much with ease. It's a little bit worrying."

The International Cricket Council slapped the MCG with a "poor" pitch rating last summer and further sanctions could leave the ground at risk of being stripped of international cricket.

"I played Sheffield Shield at the MCG 12 months ago and there was a little bit more pace and carry in this pitch," Turner told the Herald Sun.

"The bowlers could actually bowl some bouncers, Last year it was as dead as it could be.

"But it was still a really flat wicket. Batting on day four was no trouble. It pretty much did get better (to bat on) - and it wasn't hard on day one.

 

Steve Smith celebrates his Boxing Day ton. Picture: AAP
Steve Smith celebrates his Boxing Day ton. Picture: AAP

 

Even Stuart Broad reached a half century last year. Picture: AAP
Even Stuart Broad reached a half century last year. Picture: AAP

 

"It had quite a lot of grass, but it was thick grass and dead grass and it didn't swing."

Victoria took just one wicket in the final 46 overs on day four after centuries to Nic Maddinson (162 off 293) and Cameron White (119 off 206) set up a first-innings score of 9/424 (declared).

The Herald Sun understands new curator Matt Page is likely to prepare a similar pitch to the MCG's first two Shield matches this summer, given what happened in the Vics-WA draw.

Maxwell and Turner did not play in those matches.

It was hoped the pitch for the third Shield match would be drier and crumble late in the game, but that did not happen.

Ricky Ponting said this week that Australia and England would "still be batting on (last year's) pitch now, a year later" after the Ashes run-fest.

"There was nothing in it for the bowlers whatsoever," Ponting said.

The Ashes Test netted 1081 runs and just 24 wickets before it was mercifully ended shortly after tea on day five.

 

Glenn Maxwell has raises concerns over the MCG pitch. Picture: AAP
Glenn Maxwell has raises concerns over the MCG pitch. Picture: AAP

 

Australian quick Mitchell Starc said he did not know what to expect.

"It sounds like they've been trying a few things with the Shield cricket there," Starc said.

"I think it may be a surprise what they actually dish out next week."

Page, who crossed to Melbourne after five years at the WACA Ground, has reduced the MCG block from 10 pitches to seven.

"What happened last year is irrelevant in my mind, because every Test wicket you produce there is pressure," Page said in October.

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