Has Melbourne pitch been changed to neutralise wily Swann?

Monday, December 20, 2010

MELBOURNE - The pitch for the fourth Ashes Test to be played in Melbourne has been switched, less than a fortnight before the match.

Despite denials that a decision has been taken to help the home side, it is likely to diminish the impact of Graeme Swann, England’s most potent threat.

With the series level at 1-1, England need only a win in either Melbourne or Sydney, but Australia has drawn fresh confidence before the traditional Boxing Day fixture.

According to Fox Sports, changing pitches so close to a match is rare, but Channel 9 and Sky Sports have been told to move the position of their cameras, which must be directly behind the bowler to allow technology to operate accurately.

There is bound to be suspicion that Australia are trying to produce a surface to give every assistance to their pace attack, led by Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris.

The Times has learnt that Cameron Hodgkins, the groundsman at the MCG, took the decision to switch the Test pitch from No.5 to No.7 in the middle of last week.

Peter French, a senior manager at Melbourne Cricket Club, said: “We are not changing because we want a more lively pitch. We are simply getting the best one possible for the Test, which we want to go to the final session of the final day.”

“England played at the MCG immediately before Perth and Andy Flower, the team director, accepted the news. “This does not surprise me,” he said.

“When we were here they were preparing two tracks and were conscious, from what I understood, of one of them being too dry to use in a Test match.”

Producing a surface to help the home bowling attack would be nothing new.

In 2009 Australia were surprised by the pitch for the final Test at the Oval, which was kept deliberately dry to assist Swann. (ANI)

Filed under: Boxing, Cricket

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