The SCG wicket has come into sharp focus as David Warner's planned farewell Test threatens to be dominated by ball over bat. With just a month to go before Australia takes on Pakistan in what shapes as Warner's 112th and final Test at his beloved home ground, the Sydney wicket square has become a strong talking point.
It has turned into a minefield for batters during the first half of the Sheffield Shield season. NSW has won both games played there, finishing well ahead of time after a series of dramatic batting collapses.
On Thursday, NSW bowled Tasmania out for just 68 on a deck featuring variable bounce and a concerning crack running down the right hander's off-stump at the Randwick end. Several batters played for the crack only for the ball to behave normally, while others were undone by sudden movement or balls staying low and hitting halfway up the stumps.
Divots were taken out of the surface and it was only lengthy rain breaks that stretched the game as far as it did. The Blues were only defending 143 after being bowled out for just 118 in their second innings but end up winning with more than a day to spare.
The Tigers' dramatic collapse saw them crash from 3-57 to all out 68, losing 7-11 in the process. Twenty-four wickets fell on the final day, with fast bowlers Chris Tremain (NSW) and Lawrence Neil-Smith (Tasmania) taking 19 scalps between them for the match.
Runs are desperately lacking on SCG pitch
Earlier in the season, the powerful WA batting line-up was routed for 141 and 136 as the Blues recorded their first Shield win in almost two years. In all, 1167 runs have been scored at the SCG this season at an average of 16.67 per batter.
Just one century – Ollie Davies' 129 against WA – and four half centuries have been scored across eight innings and just once has a team passed 230. "It was a fun game, but if you ask the batsmen it probably wasn't," Tremain said after destroying Tasmania.
"Games in fast forward are good to watch. The divots and cracks in the wicket probably meant one ball had your name on it." Others told Yahoo Sport the pitch was "quite ugly at times and virtually unplayable".
Warner, who averages a tick under 50 in Tests at the SCG, plans to farewell Test cricket in front of family and friends during the third Test from January 3-7. Selectors are likely to grant him his wish despite the 37-year-old's patchy form in red-ball cricket over the past two years.
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