MCG starts work on standby Test pitch

Shayne Hope
·2-min read

Preparations have begun on a fresh MCG pitch as Cricket Australia edges closer to a decision on where the third Test in the Border-Gavaskar series will be played.

The clock is ticking and, with Melbourne on standby, MCG ground staff have started the process of readying the strip immediately to the east of the one in use by Australia and India for the Boxing Day Test.

The new deck was rolled before play resumed on Sunday as CA remained locked in negotiations with the NSW and Queensland governments.

Queensland's closed border to Sydney has put the SCG's hosting of the third Test - scheduled to begin on January 7 - in doubt.

If the border remains closed, CA would need travel exemptions for hundreds of people, including players, coaches and team support staff, as well as broadcasters.

Melbourne Cricket Club chief executive Stuart Fox asked staff to put January holidays on hold and said there are still several hurdles for the MCG to overcome.

But he is confident the famous ground will be ready to go if required - even if the Victorian government lifts the COVID-safe capacity of the venue beyond the current 30,000.

"You can't just sit back and wait for it to all happen," Fox told SEN.

"You just think a second pitch being prepared straight after a Boxing Day Test - that's one of the fundamentals.

"The simple things are really challenging, so we've started our planning (around) how you do it if you do increase the number of people in the stadium and those sorts of things.

"We're ready to go. It comes with a few challenges, but we'll be right."

Fox is in regular contact with interim CA boss Nick Hockley and expects a decision from the national body within 48 hours.

"There's just so much to play out here and Cricket Australia should be congratulated in buying time for Sydney because we all want to see it get away in Sydney, and let's hope it does," Fox said.

"But the more time they can get to plan this out, the greater the chance is.

"My understanding is that it's the complication of moving everyone from New South Wales into the Queensland market."