Perth, Jan 13: The WACA curator Cam Sutherland described the images of people walking and drinking on the Test pitch last night as "unfortunate" but insisted he and his staff were only inspecting the "aesthetics" of the wicket before Fridays match.
On the eve of the third Test between India and Australia here, Indian television showed images of around a dozen WACA staff standing, drinking and lying on the pitch as Sutherland did a final inspection at around 7.30 pm local time.
Images were shown of around a dozen of WACA staff standing, drinking and lying on the pitch.
Sutherland expressed disappointment that he and his colleagues were made to look unprofessional by the television that appeared to show up to a dozen people standing, drinking and lying on the pitch.
"I was the one that removed covers. I was out doing the work initially and a couple of my staff came out and joined me. We were the ones that were lying on the pitch and that seems to be the issue. Well, yeah, we were working on it," Sutherland told ABC Radio.
"We had an issue when the Adelaide Strikers warmed up on it (before the) Twenty20 game on Sunday, which they werent supposed to. So we were just looking at the aesthetics of it.
"Its too hard to do it on the morning of the game or the day before when they are doing all their markings," he added.
The footage had upset the Indian team management and senior BCCI functionary Rajiv Shukla had said that the Cricket Australia must look into the issue.
But Sutherland said the groundstaff were doing the work late as he had other commitments till seven in the evening.
"The reason we were doing it so late was I had other commitments up until seven oclock when I came back and I hadnt seen it for a few hours. I wanted to have a look and make sure everything was how I wanted it to be," he said.
"There were just a few little blemishes we could tie off on that night and it will give time for everything to settle.
Then the next morning we can just go and give it a cut and a roll, which we have to do, and theres no issue with us sitting around the wicket on match day doing all our poking and prodding," said Sutherland.
"We thought there would be no one there and hard-working staff work behind the scenes in the offices who are obviously females and dont get out to the wicket, probably dont understand the Test wicket but they love the night before to go out and say, Geez, well done boys and this looks great or whatever. They came out and they took off their shoes and they showed a pretty good respect.
"Someone walked across it which we saw, which is a bit unfortunate. Ten minutes later they were gone but we were still out there an hour later doing our thing. Thats the thing the footage doesnt show - working on the Test wicket.
"We have been made to look unprofessional but we were trying to get it as best as possible for both sides today and thats been turned on its head," he added.
Sutherland also said that the pitch was under his control till the time it was handed over to the ICC on Friday morning.
"Up until the toss of the coin we can do anything we want to the wicket. I shouldnt say it but we could be out there this morning if we wanted to. Thats our prerogative, to get a surface which we think will (produce) good Test cricket."
As per the ICC rules, the track should be covered and cordoned off ahead of a Test match. And the official website of the West Australian Cricket Association (WACA) also lists alcohol as a prohibited item inside the stadium.