Ashes: Melbourne Cricket Ground pitch 'poor', says ICC

Steve Smith
Australia captain Steve Smith criticised the Melbourne pitch despite hitting a century to secure a draw in the fourth Test
Fifth Ashes Test - Australia v England
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground Date: Thursday, 4 January (Wednesday, 3 January at 23:30 GMT)
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

The pitch used for the Boxing Day Test between Australia and England in Melbourne has been rated as "poor" by the International Cricket Council.

Only 24 wickets fell over the five days of the drawn fourth Ashes Test.

"The bounce of the MCG pitch was medium, but slow in pace and got slower as the match progressed," read match referee Ranjan Madugalle's report.

"The nature of the pitch did not change over the five days and there was no natural deterioration."

Australia scored 327 and 263-4 declared at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, either side of England's 491.

After the match, Australia captain Steve Smith said: "It was probably the flattest wicket I have played on. If we played for the next two days it wouldn't change."

Cricket Australia has 14 days to provide a response.

The rating given to the MCG pitch is the last handed out to a Test ground before the ICC switches to a new system in time for the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney, which begins at 23:30 GMT on Wednesday.

In the new process, if a pitch or outfield is substandard, a venue can be awarded demerit points, which accumulate over a five-year period.

If a venue gains five demerit points, it will be barred from hosting international cricket for 12 months, while 10 points would result in a two-year suspension.

Australia had already won the Ashes, holding a 3-0 lead before the match at the MCG.

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