MELBOURNE: The ICC has given the Melbourne Cricket Ground pitch a poor rating for last week's drawn Ashes test, giving Cricket Australia two weeks to respond to the criticism before determining a sanction.
Players and commentators criticized the lifeless drop-in pitch used for the Boxing Day test between Australia and England in Melbourne, and International Cricket Council match referee Ranjan Madugalle followed up in his official report to the sport's governing body when he gave it a poor rating.
It was the first Australian test venue to be rated with such a low rating.
Under existing rules, the ICC sanction can range from an official warning to a fine. But under regulations set to come into effect on Thursday, pitches officially rated as poor or unfit will be given demerit points which could ultimately lead to suspensions.
The ICC also rated the Indian venue Pune as poor last year after Australia's victory there over India.
The MCG is one of the sport's most iconic venues, becoming a test fixture for the annual Boxing Day test in Australia and having hosted the most recent World Cup final.
The opening day of the test drew more than 88,000 spectators last week, despite Australia having already clinched the five-match series with victories in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
But in his report, Madugalle outlined the concerns of the match officials over the performance of the pitch on which Australia scored 327 and 263-4 declared, and England scoring 491 in its only innings.
"The bounce of the MCG pitch was medium, but slow in pace and got slower as the match progressed," Madugalle said in the report.
"The nature of the pitch did not change over the five days and there was no natural deterioration. As such, the pitch did not allow an even contest between the bat and the ball as it neither favored the batsmen too much nor it gave the bowlers sufficient opportunity to take wickets."