BEHIND THE SPORTS DESK: 'Poor' pitch performance
CRICKET: After the annual Boxing Day test fizzled out to a five-day draw at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last week, due to a lifeless wicket, fans have called for the end of 'drop-in' pitches.
But is it really just the nature of the pitch that is at fault for the bland game?
MOOSE: Limited overs triumph causing wicket woes
THE BIGGEST detriment to the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Boxing Day test is not the drop in wicket, but the embattled Melbourne Stars.
The T20 franchise, who are evidently struggling in this year's version of the Big Bash, have called the MCG home since 2011-12, and in that time test cricket has taken a turn for the worse at the venue.
It is the insatiable hunger of the limited overs game for big-hitting sixes, and entertaining innings from players like Chris Lynn and Glenn Maxwell that has caused the drop-in wicket to closer resemble an airport tarmac than an actual playing pitch.
The MCG has been using drop-in wickets since 1996, and in the more than two decades since then have hosted some of the more thrilling Boxing Day spectacles.
It is not the idea of a drop-in wicket that causes the problems, but more the preparation of such.
We are preparing decks that encourage big hitting and crowd catching - but then asking batsmen to utilise the full five-days to build their innings and protect their wicket.
There is no doubting the wicket produced last week was poor - whether the ICC says it or not.
Alistair Cook not only batted the Aussies into submission but also the poor spectators.
But I don't think that can all be blamed on the drop-in wicket. Besides, until cricket begins hosting more games at the 'G than the AFL does each season, this argument is void.
POTTSY: Test cricket at risk from lifeless drop-in decks
CRICKET fans like to see test matches that end in a result, and while rain hampered any chance of a result in this year's Boxing Day Test, the pitch also didn't help the situation.
With little bounce, pace or spin, and hardly any deterioration over the five days, it's little wonder the ICC rated the wicket as "poor". The MCG has had a drop-in pitch since 1996, and it makes sense, considering the 'G is a mecca for sport in Melbourne and Australia and used for a variety of purposes, from sold-out concerts to AFL blockbusters. However, it's unacceptable for Australian pitches to be so lifeless, and with the ICC's new demerit system for pitch rankings, further poor ratings could jeopardise the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
It's obvious that AFL administrators are behind the push for drop-in pitches across Australia for the welfare of their players, but it's also putting the other sport which uses the grounds in danger.
Test cricket is enjoying a renaissance at the minute, it would be a shame to see it dwindle again because some aerial ping-pong players get their way.
There's no doubt that drop-in pitches are the way of the future, but more needs to be done in their development, and the development of fields, so that traditional wickets that we know and love don't lose their character, and test cricket can be played to the highest quality possible.