The Melbourne Cricket Ground is regarded as Australia’s premier sporting venue. For over one hundred years, it has played host to many of the country’s biggest cricket and Australian Rules Football matches, and many other significant sporting contests besides. It was, in fact, even the centrepiece of the Olympic Games of 1956. The ‘G (as it is affectionately known by the people of Melbourne) is located a short distance to the east of the city’s CBD and is easily accessible by both public transport and by foot; it is common, for example, for business people to walk to the arena after work to watch the second session of day-night cricket internationals. Prior to a series of developments in the 1980s and 1990s, it possessed a capacity of around 125,000; since that time, the extension of individual seating to virtually all of its reaches has reduced that figure to somewhere closer to 97,000. In short, it is an imposing stadium: the three-tiered Great Southern Stand (completed in 1992) bounds the perimeter of one half of the ground and holds close to 50,000 people; there are also vast banks of seating in the Ponsford Stand, Olympic Stand and Members’ Reserve. It is also replete with a Gallery of Sport, two giant electronic scoreboards, and a vast array of corporate and media facilities.
Notwithstanding the fact that various curators drew fire from players and spectators alike for producing a succession of wearing, low bouncing surfaces through the 1980s and early 1990s, pitches at the MCG have, for most of its history, generally facilitated well balanced contests between bat and ball. No better has this been exemplified than in famous matches in its recent past such as the 1982-83 Test between Australia and England; the thrilling Australia-New Zealand decider in 1987-88; and the 1992 World Cup Final between Pakistan and England.