With Australia’s XI for the fourth Test now confirmed and Mitchell Swepson left out, it’s clear that the SCG is no longer the safe haven for spinners that it once was.
Australian vice-captain Steve Smith strongly hinted that Swepson would be left out of the team, when he commented on the state of the pitch yesterday.
“Looking at this wicket at the moment there seems to be a fair amount of grass,” Smith told reporters.
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“I dare say it won’t take too much spin late in the game, which was the old SCG that we used to see, and I would like to see.”
The SCG wicket was in the past a ground that Australia liked to play multiple spinners on, but that selection strategy now appears confined to history.
“They’re trying to make it hard from day one and not quite as tacky as it’s been previously with the weather around,” Smith said.
Conditions throughout the series have been very amenable to pace bowling, with the likes of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins consistently threatening, and Jhye Richardson and Scott Boland coming into the side and being equally disruptive.
The MCG wicket, in particular, gave more to bowlers than Smith was used to.
“I’ve probably never seen any seam movement like that in my life,” he said.
“One of those balls that [English opener Haseeb] Hameed left that evening, when it hit him, it came back like an off-spinner. The ball was seaming as far as I’ve seen in my career on any wicket, so it was never going to be easy for the batters.”
England captain Joe Root agreed, but said it was no excuse for his team’s embarrassing collapse.
“All three [pitches] looked different to previous tours that I’ve been on,” Root said.
“I’d say that Melbourne was obviously the most challenging – it seemed to be the one that was most volatile and misbehaved more than the others.
“But you can find yourself on a number of different surfaces, ultimately you’ve got to handle them better than the opposition and so far we’ve not managed that.”
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