No Ashes pitch conspiracy, says MCG groundsman

Melbourne: The head of the ground staff at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday said there was no conspiracy in his switch of drop-in pitches for the crucial fourth Ashes Test against England.

MCG curator Cameron Hodgkins dismissed speculation that he has prepared a Boxing Day Test pitch to give Australia an advantage as the Ashes hang in the balance at one win each.

The pitch being prepared for Sunday`s Test is Hodgkins` second choice after he decided to ditch his initial selection a fortnight ago before the third Perth Test, which Australia won to tie the series.

"The last time I spoke to someone from Cricket Australia was in the middle of winter," Hodgkins told reporters.

"It was entirely a personal thing (changing pitches).”

"Two weeks ago it became pretty evident that my first option wasn`t going to be ideal for what I envisaged for a Test pitch. I was able to then go to what I thought would be a better surface."

Hodgkins said the drop-in pitch was likely to give spinners some encouragement on Sunday`s opening day, then flatten out over the rest of the five days.

"It`s a wicket which offers a little bit up front and is quite flat towards the end of the match," he said.

"Most of the turn we`ve had in matches here has been on day one. The most successful teams have had variety in their attack here."

Drop-in pitches are used for cricket at the MCG once the Australian Football League season finishes each October.

Bureau Report