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Ken Borland


Hectares of playing area at the MCG, but no place for the Proteas to hide

Posted on July 24, 2023 by Ken

There is more than a hectare of playing area at the cavernous Melbourne Cricket Ground, the largest stadium in the southern hemisphere, but there will be no place to hide for the Proteas as they look to stay alive in the series in the second Test against Australia starting in the early hours of Boxing Day (SA time).

South African captain Dean Elgar confirmed on Saturday that the tourists will field the same bowling attack which did a good job in the first Test in Brisbane, so if there is a change to the team then it will come amongst the beleaguered batting line-up.

“Playing at the MCG is the stuff of childhood dreams and I personally watched the Boxing Day Tests on TV as a young kid. So it’s going to be a surreal moment going out on the field,” Elgar said.

“It’s the first time here for the whole squad really, we have not been in these waters before. But we have a massive job at hand, trying to level the series, and we can’t wait to get going.

“We do have our final XI picked and there was chat around the seven/four split. But the bowlers have retained their spots, so if there is a change then it will come in the batting.

“We’ve had two days of really intense preparation, but now the guys need to pitch up and respond. We’ve had good conversations, but talk is cheap now, we’d best put a performance on the board,” Elgar said.

The opening batsman said he hoped for a much fairer pitch than the minefield used for the first Test at the Gabba. A two-day Test was not only a massive fail for the game but a commercial disaster for Queensland cricket.

“The pitch feels a lot firmer now, it was quite wet yesterday [Thursday] from the rain. So it seems a good wicket, we want that balance between bat and ball, that’s all we ever ask for.

“I imagine it’s not that easy preparing pitches, but obviously we don’t want another two-day Test, hopefully that will never be repeated again.

“We have an attack that can win Test matches, but we need to get them into that situation and we know runs on the board are key. We had a bit of a hurdle last week, but we are starting afresh.

“We all feel in a good space. We had a brilliant build-up before the first Test, but then a bit of a hiccup. But both batting units had that bar one batsman. Maybe too much has been read into what happened last week,” Elgar said.

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