Steve Smith: Gabba pitch is 1 of the most difficult in Australia

Steven Smith has described the Gabba green-top as the most difficult wicket he has played on in Australia, and he is hopeful that conditions at the MCG would be more conducive to batting. South Africa was thrashed in Brisbane, where 34 wickets fell in two days to kick off the blockbuster series, making it the quickest Test on Australian soil in 91 years. The ICC frowned on the game lasting just six sessions, with match referee Richie Richardson rating the Gabba surface as “poor.” “below average”, and claiming it was “not an equitable duel between bat and ball.

Steve Smith on Gabba pitch

Steve Smith Gabba pitch 'most difficult in Australia'-1

Despite Australia’s six-wicket victory, Smith wants to see batsmen given greater assistance during the Boxing Day Test. As a batter, I’d prefer it to do a little less,” he remarked on Wednesday in Melbourne. “I believe it is a delicate balance to have an equitable duel between bat and ball. It was certainly the most challenging wicket I’d ever played on in Australia.” In his post-match news conference, South Africa captain Dean Elgar criticized the surface as hazardous and questioned umpires during the penultimate session whether it was safe to continue playing on. Smith said that there were times throughout the game when he was caught off guard.

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I believe there were a couple of times when the ball simply did something out of nowhere,” Smith said. “Some balls were resting in the wicket, producing divots, while others were zinging through, making it very difficult to bat again. It’s not really my position to say if it was dangerous or not, but it wasn’t simple to bat. Cricket Australia’s director of cricket operations, Peter Roach, agreed with the ICC’s judgement, admitting that the Gabba surface favored fast bowling too much.

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We urge all of our matches to consider how we can strike the correct balance heading into the fourth day,” Roach told reporters. “We recommend not being dissatisfied when a match continues into the fifth day; late on the fourth day provides the game a chance to go a little farther. Last year’s Boxing Day Test was called off before noon on the third day after Scott Boland memorably ripped through England’s batting order in the second innings with 6-7 on debut.

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However, it was only five years ago that the MCG was given a “bad” grade after a sluggish tie in which just 24 wickets were taken over five days. Roach said that MCG curator Matt Page’s plans will not change as a result of what transpired at the Gabba. Smith’s bewildered expression when informed there would be no message from CA to make the MCG more batter-friendly says it all. [Last year’s MCG Test] lasted three days, it was a challenging weekend, and this year we’ve got two pretty excellent bowling attacks again, so we’ll sum up the circumstances and try to play appropriately,” Smith said.

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