Melbourne, May 1 : The Melbourne Cricket Club's new curator has said there will be no repeat of the problems that led Cricket Victoria to question the club's commitment to cricket.
Cameron Hodgkins, a highly regarded curator, said that his team and he have begun relaying the surface of ten strips of turf, which will be housed for the winter in a clearing enclosed by cyclone-wire fencing in parklands outside Punt Road Oval.
Hodgkins explained that the excessive amounts of a mineral inhibiting grass growth had been detected in the soil, creating inconsistencies in grass coverage.
"We have stripped the top off every portable (pitch) we have. We have added new soil to that surface layer and new grass," The Age quoted him, as saying.
"We are very confident next season we will see a measurable improvement. Our wickets will certainly fulfil the requirements of first-class and international cricket and going forward the fruits of what has been put in place this year will be seen," he added.
Cricket Victoria, whose nine-year agreement with the MCC to host international cricket expires after the 2008-09 season, described the present wicket as "embarrassing".
Chairman Geoff Tamblyn denied the attack was linked with negotiations for a new agreement, having previously said the right to host cricket in Melbourne could be put to tender, but said: "The MCC could keep good faith with us by making sure ... we get guaranteed that wickets will be of top order."
The MCG expects to host an international rules fixture on October 31, which means the cricket pitches cannot be installed immediately after the AFL grand final.
However, Hodgkins stands by the portable pitch technology, which some critics, including Australian captain Ricky Ponting, believe robs grounds of its unique character.
"We are a multi-purpose stadium and, as such, we need the flexibility to be able to host different events and also cater for cricket," Hodgkins said.