Have a gander at the ‘G’
Ends: Members End, Great Southern Stand End
Home Team: Victoria, Melbourne Stars
Test History: 109 Tests; 63 home wins, 30 away wins, 16 draws
Regarded as Australia’s premier sporting venue, the ‘G’ has played host to the country’s biggest cricket and Australian Rules Football matches, and many other significant sporting contests for over one hundred years.
The highlight of the Australian sporting calendar for many though is the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
At one point the vast bowl had a capacity topping 125,000, but the conversion of virtually all areas of the ground to seating has seen the total drop below six figures.
Notwithstanding the fact that various curators drew fire from players and spectators alike for producing a succession of wearing, low bouncing surfaces through the 1980s and early 1990s, pitches at the MCG have, for most of its history, generally facilitated well balanced contests between bat and ball.
Last Time Out
Australia achieved a crushing victory over Pakistan on the back of an unorthodox batting masterclass from Steve Smith.
This came after Pakistan had posted 443/9 declared in their first innings with Azhar Ali carrying his bat for 205.
Hundreds from David Warner and Smith helped Australia post 624/8 declared.
Mitchell Starc then bagged four as Pakistan crumbled to 163 all out to lose by an innings and 18 runs.
Happy Hunting Ground
As with most grounds in Australia, Don Bradman has the most runs at the venue with 1671 in 11 Tests. Of the more modern players, former Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting scored 1338 runs in 15 games at an average of 58.17.
On the bowling front, former fast bowler Dennis Lillee took 82 wickets in 14 Tests at the MCG, while no ground in Australia will not feature legendary legspinner Shane Warne who has 56 scalps in just 11 games at the venue.
Bad news for England Steve Smith enjoys this ground scoring 638 runs in eight innings here in Test cricket at an average of 127.60.
Nathan Lyon’s career total of 23 Test wickets in Melbourne outs him way ahead of the pace trio who have just a handful of appearances at the ground.
Alastair Cook’s moderate 191 runs in three Tests represents the best record of the current England bats at the MCG.
James Anderson’s tally of nine in two visits to the ‘G’ make him the wicket leader in the current group.
England captain Alastair Cook in 2014: “We wanted to get the ball to reverse, so we bowled with the seamers, trying to rough up the ball.
“If it comes off it comes off, other people might have done it differently. We got ourselves in a position to win this game so we’ve got to dust ourselves off for Sydney.”
The surface came for some criticism last year, with some suggesting that the pitch was too flat initially and not enough assistance was given to the bowlers.
However, history suggests that the MCG usually offers something for everybody with results possible in the 16 of the last 17 Tests.
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