'That's a disgrace': Cricket greats slam 'wrong' Boxing Day Test reality

·Sports Reporter

New Zealand great Ian Smith has questioned why it has taken 32-years for the Kiwis to feature in another MCG Boxing Day Test.

Smith, a former New Zealand wicket-keeper and now commentator, played in the classic 1987 Boxing Day Test match where Mike Whitney famously survived five overs at the end of the day to hand Allan Border’s team a series win.

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The final over was remembered for the tailender blocking out Hadlee’s final over.

But 32-years later the Trans-Tasman rivalry is set to play out again on one of the most famous stages in the sporting world, but Smith believes it has been too long between innings.

Mitchell Starc appeals for the wicket of BJ Watling of New Zealand during day four of the First Test match in the series between Australia and New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Mitchell Starc appeals for the wicket of BJ Watling of New Zealand during day four of the First Test match in the series between Australia and New Zealand. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

“It’s wrong,” Smith told Fox Sports.

“We’ve been a side worthy of playing Boxing Day Tests during that period quite often. We’ve had some very good cricket teams that would have tested Australia and so I think it’s been quite odd.

Whitney also labelled the 32-year wait to see the Black Caps walkout at the MCG on Boxing Day a “disgrace”.

“I can’t believe Australia and New Zealand haven’t played a Boxing Day Test since that time. That’s a disgrace,” he said.

The Aussies, led by Marnus Labuschagne, continued their red-hot summer form after a 296-run win over the Black Caps in Perth.

Ian Smith during day three of the test match between New Zealand and South Africa at Basin Reserve on March 18, 2017 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Getty Images)
Ian Smith during day three of the test match between New Zealand and South Africa at Basin Reserve on March 18, 2017 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Getty Images)

MCG pitch ready

Legendary pitch whisperer Les Burdett has given the MCG's much-maligned wicket his emphatic seal of approval less than a week out from the Boxing Day Test.

Fears Australia and New Zealand would be subjected to a substandard pitch were raised when a Sheffield Shield match between Victoria and Western Australia at the iconic venue was abandoned due to a dangerous surface.

Following that debacle Burdett, the highly respected curator at Adelaide Oval for 40 years and adviser with Cricket Australia, was brought in to supervise Test preparations.

After surveying the pitch prepared by MCG curator Matt Page, Burdett is not only confident the wicket will be safe, but that it will also make for an entertaining contest.

"The initiatives done for this year, I never say 100 per cent on anything, but I'm 99.99 per cent sure that this is going to be a Test Match worth watching because the situation has changed," Burdett told reporters on Friday.

"It just looks healthy.

"... I can walk down the side of that pitch now and it just has the goods.

"(They're) going to leave a bit of grass on there.

"You'll have a pitch that has more life in it than in years gone by because the characteristics and the structure of it has changed."

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