Fears for Boxing Day test

Fears have been raised over an unplayable wicket at the MCG. Photo: Getty Images
Fears have been raised over an unplayable wicket at the MCG. Photo: Getty Images
There are fears surrounding the Black Caps' Boxing Day test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground after a Sheffield Shield match at the venue was called off due to safety issues yesterday.

The first day's play of the four-day clash between Victoria and Western Australia was called off after several Western Australian batsmen were hit on a dangerous MCG pitch.

Western Australian batsman Shaun Marsh was hit several times and later went for a concussion test, and was quoted by news.com as saying the pitch was "unplayable".

"We saw guys getting hit on the head and it was disappointing. When Marcus [Stoinis] got hit on that last occasion it was pretty realistic that the pitch was unplayable.

"I probably got hit four or five times, and we saw after lunch when the wicket got a little bit harder and there was a lot of divots out there it became unplayable."

Peter Handscomb of Victoria speaks to the media as play is abandoned due to an unsafe pitch,...
Peter Handscomb of Victoria speaks to the media as play is abandoned due to an unsafe pitch, prior to the start of day two of the Sheffield Shield match between Victoria and Western Australia at Melbourne Cricket Ground. Photo: Getty Images
The pitch will be inspected again tomorrow ahead of a potential re-start but Western Australia coach Adam Voges was unimpressed.

"It's about player safety," Voges said.

"We won't put our players on a wicket that we feel is not safe. We'll make that decision in the morning. But how can they prove to us it's all of a sudden safe now?"

The drama occurred just 19 days out from one of the Black Caps' biggest test matches in years – and their first Boxing Day test in 32 years. The match is one of the highlights in a busy season of cricket for the Black Caps, and thousands of Kiwi fans are due to make the trip across the Tasman.

But Cricket Australia has pledged to get that particular pitch – which will be a different one to the strip used today - right come Boxing Day.

"We will seek to better understand the issues that resulted in variable bounce at the MCG. We will also work closely with MCG groundstaff in the lead up to the Test match," said Cricket Australia head of operations Peter Roach.

"But we also acknowledge that there have been two previous Shield matches at the MCG this season without incident.

"Matt Page and the MCG groundstaff have more than two weeks to ensure the test surface, which is a different pitch strip to the one being used in this match, is of international standard."

The Boxing Day test is the second of three tests the Black Caps will play in Australia, with the team having flown out today to Perth for the first test, a day-night pink-ball encounter, which starts on Thursday.

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