Include a spinner, MCG curator tells Ponting

Published: Sunday, December 23, 2007, 3:35 [IST]
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Melbourne: The nature of the Boxing Day Test pitch at the MCG has become the talk of the town, but curator Tony Ware predicted it will take spin later in the match and advised Ricky Ponting to pick a spinner in his squad.

Unrelenting wet weather here has led to uncertainty on the nature of the pitch and the make-up of Australia's Test team.

Ware confirmed the pitch had been under covers for 36 hours because of torrential rain, but he was unsure if that would provide the clinching argument for Australia to use four fast bowlers.

Australia must decide between four quick bowlers -- Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait -- or using only three and left-arm wrist spinner Brad Hogg.

''It seems everyone is keen to play four quick bowlers, but our pitches tend to take spin later in the match,'' Ware said.

''Because the pitch has been under covers for so long, the theory is that the grass will have a green tinge.

Obviously if it sits under covers for two days it will green up.

''But with heavy rolling and a sunny day it can quickly lose that greenness. This far out (from Wednesday's start) it is just speculation. I can say that there is not as much grass on it as in previous Test matches,'' Ware said.

''We usually thin out the grass leading into the match.

The pitch has been under covers all of Friday and most of Saturday so we are hoping for solid rolling on Sunday.

Spin a bit later in the match is normal, and that's what I think you'll get.'' Ware said he expects the toss-winning captain to bat first.

''We always try to prepare a pitch so that when a captain wins the toss, he thinks for a moment, and then decides to bat,'' he said.

Meanwhile, MCC chief executive Stephen Gough said he expects a big crowd would turn up to watch Indian maestro Sachin Tendulkar bat one last time at the MCG just like they did on Australian great Steve Waugh's last Test.

He said he expects about 70,000 fans to roll up on Boxing Day and there is a chance to emulate the 180,000 spectators who attended the last Test between these two countries here in 2003-04.

''That was Steve Waugh's final Test in Melbourne and 29,000 people turned up to see him bat on the last day,'' Gough said.

''This time, it is the opportunity to see the maestro Sachin Tendulkar bat in an MCG Test for the final time -- another golden opportunity for cricket lovers to savour the moment.''


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