The New South Wales Blues have been declared Sheffield Shield champions for 2019-20 after Cricket Australia cancelled the final and all other organised cricket as part of its response to coronavirus.
The MCG looks like hosting a result in a Test or Shield match for the first time since February last year.
The MCG drop-in wicket had become so flat, fast bowler Chris Tremain says even the batsmen were sick of it.
But all that changed when 13 wickets tumbled on a dramatic opening day of the Victoria-NSW Sheffield Shield match.
Tremain snared 5-47 as Victoria won the toss and blasted NSW out for 159.
Victorian captain Peter Handscomb will be kicking himself for his cheap dismissal in the second-last over of Thursday’s play, given the state of the game and the Test batting spots on offer.
But the home side was still well-placed at 3-101, with opener Marcus Harris making 51no.
It is the first Victorian home match of the season and much of the pre-game focus was on how the pitch would play.
The ICC rated last year’s Ashes Boxing Day pitch as poor after the tame draw – the first time that has happened to an Australian Test venue.
The last MCG Shield result was NSW’s innings win in February last year, with four draws since.
“After last season … I think we would rather see the game go two and a half days and get a result than bang out another draw,” Tremain said.
“Even the batsmen were sick of sitting in the field for two days.
“We could have pulled up stumps half way through a game there … if we were allowed to bet on cricket games we could have retired after the Test because there was no way that was going to be a result either.”
Tremain said the pitch still produced a tennis ball bounce during day one, but thought there was better carry through to the keeper even after lunch.
“It is lively, but it is ‘slow lively’,” he added of the noticeably-green deck.
After paceman Trent Copeland struck early to leave Victoria in trouble at 2-6, Harris and Handscomb combined for a crucial 93-run stand.
Handscomb made 48 before he chased a wide ball from leg-spinner Daniel Fallins a few minutes before stumps.
The edge bounced off the gloves of wicketkeeper Peter Nevill and Copeland took the catch at first slip.
Earlier, leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed’s 3-18 helped wrap up the NSW tail, while Scott Boland sparked the collapse by snaring the key wicket of teen sensation Jack Edwards immediately after lunch for 34.
Kurtis Patterson top-scored with 63.
NSW struck early trouble at 3-55, but steadied through a 50-run stand between Patterson and Edwards and were 3-103 at lunch.
Edwards fell in the second over after the break and that triggered a 7-56 collapse.