Steve Smith: The Gabba pitch is the hardest in Australia
The conditions at the MCG should be more conducive to batting, according to Steven Smith, who has referred to the Gabba green-top as the toughest wicket he has played on in Australia.
It was the quickest Test played on Australian soil in 91 years, and South Africa was destroyed in Brisbane as 34 wickets fell in two days to start the explosive series.
The game was only scheduled for six sessions, and according to match referee Richie Richardson, it was “not an even combat between bat and ball” and the Gabba surface was rated as “below ordinary.”
Despite the fact that Australia’s six-wicket victory gave them a 1-0 lead, Smith wants to see greater support for hitters during the Boxing Day Test.
“As a batter I’d like it to do a little bit less,”he said in Melbourne on Wednesday.
“I think it’s a fine balance just trying to get that even contest between bat and ball. It was probably the most difficult wicket I’ve played on here in Australia.”
Dean Elgar, the captain of South Africa, criticized the field as dangerous in his post-game news conference and enquired of the umpires during the previous session as to whether it could be ruled unsafe going forward. Smith acknowledged that there were times during the game when he was caught off guard.
“I think there were a few instances that the ball did some stuff that was just out of nowhere,”Smith said.
“Some balls were sitting in the wicket, making divots, some were zinging through and it was just incredibly hard to bat again. Whether it was unsafe or not, it’s not really my place to judge, but it certainly wasn’t easy to bat.”
Cricket Peter Roach, the director of cricket operations for Australia, has agreed with the ICC’s assessment and acknowledged that the Gabba pitch overly favored fast bowling.
“We encourage all our matches to look at how we make the right balance over it going deep into the fourth day,”
“We say that not being disappointed when a match goes into the fifth day; late on the fourth day gives a chance for the game to go a bit further.”
When Scott Boland memorably destroyed England’s batting order in the second innings of the Boxing Day Test last year with 6-7 on his debut, the match was over before lunch on the third day.
However, the MCG was given a “bad” grade just five years ago after a sluggish stalemate that lasted five days and saw only 24 wickets fall.
In response to the events at the Gabba, Roach stated that MCG curator Matt Page would not alter his plans.
Smith’s expression when told there would be no message from CA to make it more batter-friendly at the MCG was enough to convey his confusion.
“(Last year’s MCG Test) went three days, was a difficult weekend and this year we’ve again got two really good bowling attacks so we’ll sum up the conditions and try to play accordingly,”Smith said.