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How Aussies can prove they are much more than a quicks club



A spoonful of fire and brimstone is just what Sydney needs. And if the ground staff ever went too far and put too much chili in the mix, don’t fret.We will forgive you. The greater crime is to do nothing.Catch every moment of The Ashes live and ad-break free during play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-days free now.MCG curator Matt Page has given his Sydney counterparts a timely example of how it is possible to turn a tabby cat into a tiger.He also showed us that if you are going to change the fabric of a wicket and you have to err then err on the side of overcorrection.Test cricket is enhanced, not diminished, by spicy decks as proved by the last genuinely lively SCG deck, against England eight years ago. Maybe the MCG wicket was a tad too tricky for batsmen but what a fabulous Test it was. Two days of carnage trumps five days of tedium every time. We feel some sympathy for Sydney ground staff because a determined list of curators have found the SCG deck a challengingly strip of real estate to manage but this Test against England is the chance to change things.The MCG blueprint for change is worth noting. A few years ago the MCG was warned by the game’s governing body that it was in danger of losing its Test status if it kept producing wickets as flat as the Hume Highway.Page responded this year by leaving 11mm of grass on the wicket, which meant that fast bowlers became kings.But Sydney does not have to go in this direction.It is supposed to be a spinner’s deck, so there is no crime at all – particularly with three subcontinental Test tours looming — in having a dry, cracked surface.In fact, it would be a joy to hear Fox Cricket’s pre-day pitch inspection revealing mild panic over widening cracks, which can add so much theatre to the contest. Draws are not common in Test cricket these days yet Sydney has had four in its past seven Tests. That’s too many, even if several were weather-related. As much as we luxuriate in Sydney’s potential as a slow bowling haven, its lack of bounce has driven off-spinner Nathan Lyon to abject frustration on many occasions.He averages just under 42 runs per wicket there in a decade of hard toil.But that is almost twice as good as India’s tireless champion Ravi Ashwin, who averages more than 80 per wicket there after three Tests, and finds it one of his most challenging grounds in the world.It’s time to change the narrative.Shave the grass. Put away the hose. Watch the dusty footmarks widen. Bring the men around the bat. Take Sydney back to its spin bowling roots.

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