Groundsman plays it cool in pitch ruck

MCG curator Cameron Hodgkins denies he was asked to prepare a different type of surface for the fourth Ashes Test as a response to Australia's thumping win in Perth.

A WACA pitch containing pace and bounce saw the hosts bowl England out for 187 and 123 to level the series – the tourists having made 1,137 for the loss of just six wickets across their previous two innings to take a 1-0 lead.

Much intrigue has since surrounded the nature of the drop-in pitch which will be used for the Boxing Day Test, Hodgkins having reportedly been asked to abandon his initial first choice in favour of a grassier and much livelier surface.

But the groundsman insists that was not the case and said: "No, not at all. A few people would like to believe that was the situation, but the last time I spoke to someone from Cricket Australia was in the middle of winter.

"It's entirely a personal thing and it was something I did two weeks ago, so it wasn't on the spur of anything that happened in the last week or so. I would think on the WACA's worst day they would still be faster and bouncier than anything we normally turn out. We're quite slow on the first day normally and it probably causes the most difficulty for batsmen who want to get on with it, so patience is normally a fairly key ingredient here. If you don't have that then you can be four or five down early on and the game over."

England failed to cope with Mitchell Johnson's dramatic inswing in Western Australia but, pressed on the likelihood of a repeat, Hodgkins said: "It's hard to say. We haven't been getting a lot of swing here."

That heavy defeat last time out came despite England captain Andrew Strauss winning the toss and opting to bowl first. While that is also a common decision in Melbourne, Hodgkins played down the likely impact of the fall of the coin.

"Victoria do bowl first here every time they play but that's because it's quite an easy pitch to bat on at the end," he said. "It shouldn't really matter."