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Victoria-Western Australia clash suspended due to dangerous pitch at MCG

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

A Sheffield Shield game between Victoria and Western Australia has been suspended due to a dangerous pitch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday, December 7.

Videos from the match, doing the rounds on social media, showed deliveries from Peter Siddle and Andrew Fekete rearing off the drop-in pitch and striking the Western Australia batsmen, with all of Marcus Stoinis, Shaun Marsh and Cameron Green being struck.

Western Australia were 89-3 when play was called off after 40 overs on the opening day of the four-day clash. Stoinis and Marsh later underwent concussion tests, having taken blows to the helmet.

The WA batsmen had been in the firing line for most of the morning. The video shows Marsh being struck by Siddle with one that reared off a length – “That one was a nasty delivery! Gee-whiz,” the commentators said on air – and when Stoinis was struck on the ribs by Fekete, causing the batsmen to drop to his knees in pain, the umpires suspended play after speaking to the captains.

Phillip Gillespie and Geoff Joshua, the umpires, then asked the groundstaff to roll the pitch, but after subsequent inspection, play was called off for the remainder of the day. An inspection is scheduled for Sunday morning, and if the pitch is deemed safe, play will begin 30 minutes early.

However, the state of the surface, less than three weeks from the Boxing Day Test, has raised concerns for the flagship clash between Australia and New Zealand. So much that Cricket Australia released a statement to allay concerns.

“We’re very disappointed at today’s play being abandoned in the Sheffield Shield match between Victoria and Western Australia,” Peter Roach, the CA head of cricket operations, said. “But we also acknowledge that there have been two previous Shield matches at the MCG this season without incident.

“The safety of our players is always our highest priority,” he added. “The decision to suspend play and roll the wicket in an effort to address the variable bounce was the correct one and I applaud umpires Gillespie and Joshua for the decisive action taken.”

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