Former Australia captain Tim Paine has come out in severe criticism of the pitch used at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) for the Sheffield Shield game between New South Wales and Tasmania.
New South Wales and Tasmania played out the 17th match of the ongoing 2023-24 season of the Sheffield Shield at the Sydney Cricket Ground where the hosts won by 74 runs in a low-scoring encounter that lasted less than three days.
The pitch on offer at the SCG was heavily tilted in favour of the bowlers as 24 wickets fell on day three, with Tasmania failing to chase down a small target of 143 and getting bowled out for 68 in the process.
Day three began with Tasmania on 166-6 in their first innings. They folded inside the first seven overs of the day, before New South Wales were bowled out for 118 within 35 overs. Tasmania then didn’t even last 25 overs as they were bowled out in 22.1, with Chris Tremain taking six wickets and Jackson Bird taking four.
Paine, the former Australia captain hailing from Tasmania, didn’t hold back in his criticism of the SCG surface. Speaking to SEN Tassie, Paine said, “That was an absolute disgrace. This a Test venue in the strongest state in the country, and they rolled that up. That’s embarrassing.
“The ball was seaming sideways, it was going up and down, it wasn’t fit for first-class cricket. That was a disgraceful wicket. I haven’t spoken to people, but you could see it on the screen it had those cracks where it’s like got grass over it. You don’t even see that in club cricket.”
Paine found it hard to believe that one of the most well-known Test venues in the world could produce a pitch like that for a first-class game. “What’s going on at Cricket New South Wales or the SCG? That was such a bad wicket to play cricket on,” Paine said. “Whether we won or lost, whatever, I could have bowled on that and taken wickets. It’s not good enough. How that can happen at one of the premier Test venues around the world is a disgrace.
“That was below standard for grade cricket and this is meant to be the premier first-class cricket competition in the world, and that is meant to be one of the iconic Test match venues.”
Tremain, who took three wickets in the first innings to go with his six-for in the second, defended the groundsmen. Speaking to ESPNCricinfo after the game, he said, “Don’t think that wicket was poorly prepared. In the balance of bat versus ball obviously ball was the winner, but I wouldn’t be too quick to hang the groundsmen out to dry.”
The SCG is scheduled to host a Test match against Pakistan in early January. Following the kind of surface that was on display in this Sheffield Shield game, concerns have naturally grown.
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