Melbourne pitch switch down to wet Australian summer

Press Releasein Cricket

Greg Shipperd, Victoria's coach, has blamed an unusually wet Melbourne summer for a switch to a potentially livelier pitch for the crucial Boxing Day Test.

Australia's captain Ricky Ponting is eager for another surface to suit his quartet of aggressive fast bowlers, and negate England's off-spinner Graeme Swann, after their crushing 267-run victory in Perth levelled the Ashes series at 1-1 with two matches to play.

Melbourne's drop-in pitches cannot remotely match the Waca's bounce and pace, but the MCG groundsman, Cameron Hodgkins, opted last week to abandon his original Test surface, in favour of a back-up pitch with more grass cover, which will encourage Ponting to believe that his wishes might be answered.

Shipperd said: "We've had such an unusual summer this year that the grass has spent a lot of time under covers. There are different grass types on the wickets and it has certainly affected some grasses more than others.

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