Sri Lankans angry and justifiably so

Kersi Meher-Homji Roar Rookie

By Kersi Meher-Homji, Kersi Meher-Homji is a Roar Rookie

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    Sri Lanka and England face off in a crucial World Cup clash. (Image: AAP/Joosep Martinson)

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    In a farcical non-finish on the SCG last night, the Sri Lankans were probably deprived of pocketing the five match series 3-1.

    It was the fourth match in the series and a likely win by the tourists would have made the fifth and final ODI in Hobart on Wednesday meaningless. Now there is chance that Australia may win in Hobart and tie the series 2-all.

    I was at the SCG match yesterday and thought the match abandonment was a joke. There was only about 90 minutes of drizzle and the covers were laid on the pitch promptly.

    With the rain stopping and drying procedure going on, I thought it would be a 25 over game with Duckworth Lewis formula deciding the winner.

    A surprised Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene said at the press conference that he was disappointed with the ruling that the match be abandoned. He cited recent instances in a match against New Zealand as also in Sri Lanka when a match had continued after heavier rains.

    He strongly queried the match abandonment and said that he would take up the matter with match referee Javagal Srinath.

    According to Jayawardene, Srinath’s call to call off the ODI robbed his team of a possible chance to finish the series off, having bowled accurately to restrict Australia to 9 for 222.

    He expressed surprise that a ground as rich in history and facilities as the SCG could not get the game re-started.

    “We played New Zealand three months ago and the interpretation we got in that series was quite different to what we got today,” Jayawardene said.

    “We played in Pallekele in Sri Lanka with a lot of rain during the World Cup as well. I think we need to find a bit more consistency, so that’s something we’ll probably write and put across to them [the ICC] and see how we can go about it.

    “At the SCG, I would assume that a ground of this magnitude you should be able to get a game in. Maybe they should do what we do back home and cover the entire ground.

    “I think we can write to the match referee because the interpretation we got three months ago in the New Zealand series was something totally different”, he added.

    “It was deemed that we’d only stop play if it was dangerous, not unfair, but today the interpretation was different. I accept that, it comes from the match referee and the umpires so I’m happy to take that on board, but it was two interpretations we got within a three-month period.”

    I remember many years ago in a match on the SCG, a helicopter was used to dry the pitch after a heavier downpour. I cannot remember the year and the opponent. Are any Roarers able to supply this information?

    Yesterday’s match should have been continued for a few overs at least. If the playing conditions were all that bad, then the match could have been aborted. In my opinion, not to attempt a restart was wrong.

    Kersi Meher-Homji
    Kersi Meher-Homji

    Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.

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    The Crowd Says (92)

    • January 21st 2013 @ 8:53am
      RickG said | January 21st 2013 @ 8:53am | ! Report

      I was there and like most people just sat in the light drizzle the whole time (while helping to construct the beer snake:)). it was never really a problem. It’s really disappointing that the game wasn’t restarted. 50 over ODIs are under pressure and abandoning games like this won’t help.

    • Roar Guru

      January 21st 2013 @ 9:01am
      sheek said | January 21st 2013 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      Hi Kersi,

      On the face of it you might be right. However, I thought the argument put forward by head groundsman Tom Parker, that the drizzle had sat on the surface & not penetrated, thus making the outfield slippery, was a very reasonable one.

      As an aside, I reckon the occupation of groundsman is a fascinating one & groundsmen the world over, & especially here in Australia, are fellows of the highest knowledge & calibre. Green keeping in general, is becoming a lost art in our increasing techno world.

      And on another note again, the Australians might feel calling the game off was the right move as their batsmen had been on the receiving end of several very poor umpiring decisions.

      Having said that, the Aussies’ final score of 222 was highly competitive & would have tested the Sri Lankans in variable conditions. I thought when the Aussies’ innings finished that they were right in the game.

      Yet another view is that these cricketers are professional & unless heavy rain was falling, the game should have continued. The umpires for example, seemed too eager to give the batsmen the opportunity to come off. If Sri Lanka had known this is how it was going to end, they might have done things differently.

      Unfortunately, administrators can be all too precious in these situations.

      In all the pros & cons, I believe the most important voice was that of the head groundsman, in this case Tom Parker. If he said “no go” then that’s good enough for me.

      • Roar Rookie

        January 21st 2013 @ 10:17am
        Hazey the Bear said | January 21st 2013 @ 10:17am | ! Report

        Hey sheek,

        I agree that 222 was competitive, and (for the sake of argument) had it been clear that the game would not have had a chance to continue after the rain, I don’t think the Sri Lankans would have been too upset. After all, they were chasing 222 on a tough-ish track…they had to survive a pumped up Starc for ten overs of that as well!

        But…once there was talk of the Duckworth-Lewis, all of a sudden their eyes would have lightened up. 130-140 off 25 with all ten wickets? Whoo hoo!

        I think if there were no rain, it would have been a far more competitive, and fair, match than if had they played with reduced overs.

        But as you say, it’s not up to us, it’s up to him – He knows his stuff.

        • January 21st 2013 @ 11:22am
          Wotdoo said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:22am | ! Report

          Does the DL system not change as the team batting looses wickets or am I imagining that.

          • Roar Guru

            January 21st 2013 @ 11:31am
            mds1970 said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:31am | ! Report

            Yes it does. Every time a wicket falls, the par score increases.

        • January 21st 2013 @ 4:08pm
          Rabbits said | January 21st 2013 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

          Don’t think Starc would have been that sharp after spending 18 overs at the crease making a half century. That takes something out of a bowler, unless you regard him as an all-rounder, I think he would’ve struggled a bit.

    • Roar Guru

      January 21st 2013 @ 9:28am
      Rabbitz said | January 21st 2013 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      Cricket is an outdoor game. Part of playing outdoors is dealing with the weather. Changing field conditions are part of that – it doesn’t need to be a “level playing field” adapting to the conditions is part of the game.

      If Park Cricketers can continue, why can’t well-paid professionals?

      Was Tom Parker more worried about the game, the players or his grass?

    • Editor

      January 21st 2013 @ 9:28am
      Tristan Rayner said | January 21st 2013 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      Here’s the official explanation, which is definitely unusual:

      “The SCG curator Tom Parker commented that the unusual problem tonight was that the rain was so light it sat on top of the grass like a heavy dew and did not sink into the soil.

      “There was no wind or sun to dry the surface despite ground staff using wide ranging measures to dry the grass. The high humidity also continued to produce heavy dew,” he said.

      The ground remained unplayable given consideration to the time required to complete the match. A minimum of 20 overs per side is required to constitute a match subject to the innings not being completed earlier.”

      • January 21st 2013 @ 9:34am
        MadMonk said | January 21st 2013 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        And how does any of that make it dangerous to play?

        • January 21st 2013 @ 9:59am
          Brett McKay said | January 21st 2013 @ 9:59am | ! Report

          Because the surface would’ve been like a skating rink, Monk. Players would’ve been losing their footing everywhere, because when it’s dewy like that, spikes can often just slide through the grass with no resistance.

          And if the bowlers then started dragging that moisture onto the pitch area, making that slippery as well, then it certainly becomes dangerous..

          • January 21st 2013 @ 10:29am
            Atawhai Drive said | January 21st 2013 @ 10:29am | ! Report

            And if a fielder or bowler had suffered one of those acronymic joint injuries, there would now be a furious debate about incompetent administrators not exercising a duty of care towards the players.

            Like everyone else who was not actually out on the ground, I have no idea just how greasy the conditions were. But it does appear that more comprehensive (and expensive) ground-drying technology should be available for big matches.

          • January 21st 2013 @ 10:59am
            Ian said | January 21st 2013 @ 10:59am | ! Report

            Not entirely true, Brett. The ground is soft enough for spikes to have enough grip to prevent players from continually slipping and sliding. The ability of the spikes top grip, is not only dependent upon what’s on the surface, but how hard or soft the soil is.

            A bit of saw dust, that has been used in the past, certainly could have helped the bowlers in their run-up. I’ve seen international matches played with heavier due than what was on the SCG last night!

            They at least could have stared the match ans assessed it after a few overs, in spite of the possible risk of injury.

            50 over cricket is already under pressure and decisions like this will only exacerbate the problem.

            • Columnist

              January 21st 2013 @ 11:51am
              Brett McKay said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:51am | ! Report

              Ian, I’m just telling you what I know to be true about playing cricket in dewy conditions. I wasn’t there last night to know for sure (as I suspect most of us also weren’t), but I have played in conditions like that where the umpires decided the field wasn’t fit to play on..

              • January 21st 2013 @ 12:02pm
                Christo the Daddyo said | January 21st 2013 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

                Brett, I drove past a suburban ground earlier in the day which had those conditions – light drizzle falling and low, dark clouds. Cricket was being played there. For some reason a few suburbs over at the SCG it was all too hard.

              • Columnist

                January 21st 2013 @ 1:21pm
                Brett McKay said | January 21st 2013 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

                Christo, I’m not defending the decision, just saying I understand why it was made. There’s a big difference between the surface of your average suburban ground and the pristine turf on the SCG..

              • January 21st 2013 @ 5:27pm
                Davey said | January 21st 2013 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

                Brett, just out of curiosity. Do you think that if they played in Sydney last friday when it was 44+ that it would be dangerous?

                Would you like to see them stop the game because that can be a dangerous situation!

                cheers

              • January 21st 2013 @ 6:25pm
                Atawhai Drive said | January 21st 2013 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

                Davey, if they had played last Friday, the Scrotometer readings would have been off the scale.

                Right now I have Heineken Cup rugby on TV, Leicester v Toulouse, played in a snow blizzard. Scrotometer readings probably in the negative.

                Eventually all venues hosting professional sport will be covered i.e. will have a roof. Until then, we have an unpredictable element to contend with. It’s called weather.

              • Columnist

                January 21st 2013 @ 7:28pm
                Brett McKay said | January 21st 2013 @ 7:28pm | ! Report

                Davey, there’s already playing conditions that allow for extra drinks breaks in hot weather, and no umpire would be game to refuse a player extra hydration on days like that. That said, if the umpires also decided that extreme heat was making it dangerous for the players, I can’t imagine there’s be too many arguments if they called a halt in play.

                Let me be clear hear again, though, because responses to my posts are largely being misinterpreted as me defending the decision last night. The fact is that none of us know what the condition of the outfield was, and I’m fairly confident that none of us are one of the umpires or ground staff.

                The point is that the umpires made the decision based on the info that the ground staff gave them, that being, that the conditions at the time were not aiding the drying or removal of the surface water. Based on that info, the umpires decided that the field was not fit for play, and abandoned the game.

                In all my posts today, I am merely saying I understand that decision. If the conditions are not conducive to drying an outfield, then there really isn’t a lot that can be done to ensure anything even remotely close to a fair contest for both sides.

          • January 21st 2013 @ 11:16am
            Matt said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:16am | ! Report

            Again, just watched the EPL highlights. They’re playing in SNOW. Here in Australia they’re crying about 5mm of rain.

            • Columnist

              January 21st 2013 @ 11:51am
              Brett McKay said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:51am | ! Report

              Matt, football is a winter sport, it’s not a fair comparison..

              • January 21st 2013 @ 12:33pm
                Matt said | January 21st 2013 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

                “We can’t play because there’s some dew on the ground, cry cry”.

                I don’t know what the solution is, but I know that it’s not stopping a game half way through pissing off everyone who paid a fair sum of money to watch a game they could have just watched on TV for free.

              • Roar Guru

                January 21st 2013 @ 7:35pm
                sheek said | January 21st 2013 @ 7:35pm | ! Report

                Brett,

                I for one appreciate the thoughts of one based on practical experience. It should still count for something!

                Thanks for sharing…..

            • January 21st 2013 @ 12:08pm
              Red Kev said | January 21st 2013 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

              There’s a fairly substantial difference between soccer boot tags and cricket boot spikes too

              • January 21st 2013 @ 12:37pm
                Matt said | January 21st 2013 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

                Probably. But has anyone ever sued because they had to play in snow?

                Just get on with it. It’s the only popular sport which constantly cancels games half way through because it’s run by melodramatic teenage girls. To put this into perspective we’re talking about what, 5mm of rain? First world problems if ever I’ve seen them.

                Thankfully I was too busy working yesterday to even watch the game, I probably caught 30 mins here and there total, so I didn’t miss out on much.

              • Columnist

                January 21st 2013 @ 1:23pm
                Brett McKay said | January 21st 2013 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

                Not to mention the difference between how well a football handles getting wet, and how how poorly a cricket ball does..

          • January 21st 2013 @ 12:20pm
            MadMonk said | January 21st 2013 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

            Brett, leaving aside your hyperbole. How would that be dangerous?

            The player at most risk is the fast bowlers, if the Bowlers run ups and pitch were covered this should not be a problem.

            The occasional fielder not being able to go sideways or turn and chase as quickly is hardly dangerous.

            As for the risk of injury, how do football players of all code’s cope.

            • Columnist

              January 21st 2013 @ 1:28pm
              Brett McKay said | January 21st 2013 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

              Monk, what exactly was hyperbolic in my response?

              If a player in trying to field the ball and loses his footing, there’s risk of all sorts of ligament damage while trying to regain balance, there would be risk of broken bones if a fall was heavy enough. If they lost their footing and slid into a fence?

              It might all seem trivial to you, but what would you have been saying if another bowler, say, was seriously injured because of the wet surface last night? It’s all about duty of care, and safe workplace, etc.

              And again, the comparisons to football are just not fair, you’re introducing sports into the argument that will always encounter wet weather. It’s why they wear the kind of footwear they do, and why football fields are generally softer (and with longer grass) than cricket.

              • January 21st 2013 @ 2:42pm
                MadMonk said | January 21st 2013 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

                Brett
                Hyperbole, “like a skating rink”. (I’ve walked on wet grass and I have tried to walk on skating rinks.)

                I won’t go through the rest, my point is unless cricket tries to expand the acceptable playing conditions it leaves itself open to ridicule.

                You have 20,000 people who have paid a fair bit of money to watch. Administrators and match officials should work harder to make sure there is cricket to watch.

                .

              • Columnist

                January 21st 2013 @ 2:57pm
                Brett McKay said | January 21st 2013 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

                Sure, but aren’t the 13 cricketers also entitled to a safe working environment?

                And how could they have worked harder to dry the outfield? Everything they tried to do made no difference, and they only had about 20 more minutes after they made the call anyway.

      • January 21st 2013 @ 9:38am
        Matt said | January 21st 2013 @ 9:38am | ! Report

        They know other sports play in SNOW right? And that people paid a lot of money to watch half a game, good luck getting a lot of them to ever come back again.

        • January 21st 2013 @ 9:52am
          Pope Paul VII said | January 21st 2013 @ 9:52am | ! Report

          The outfielders should have been issued with footy bootys.

        • January 21st 2013 @ 2:17pm
          Tlux said | January 21st 2013 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

          Matt, cricket is a sport. Not sitcom with laugh track, or a rock concert with a 4 song encore.
          Yes it can be entertaining, but ultimately the broadcasting of it on TV is due to it being a legitimate sport. Thats what people like about it. If they did go out back out last night to ‘put on a show’ then that would have been a disservice to the sport, because it would have been highly in Sri Lankas advantage. WWE ‘put on a show’.

          Sports like football and rugby can be played in torrential rain because both teams are competing in the same conditions at the same time. In cricket, if one team bats in the dry, and the other in the rain, there is a massive difference. The ball loses all of its pace, giving a massive benefit to the batting side. The outfield becomes super quick as the ball skids along to the surface, making boundaries easier.

      • January 21st 2013 @ 11:12am
        bilo said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:12am | ! Report

        “the rain was so light it sat on top of the grass like a heavy dew”…So the rain was so “heavy” it was like heavy dew…um, does this mean play will now have to be called off if there is heavy dew?

    • January 21st 2013 @ 9:39am
      Jitter said | January 21st 2013 @ 9:39am | ! Report

      Our cricketers won’t play with dew on the field? How do they handle England?

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    • January 21st 2013 @ 11:13am
      Kersi Meher-Homji said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:13am | ! Report

      No Roarer has answered my query. When and against whom was a helicopter used on the SCG to dry the pitch?

      • Roar Guru

        January 21st 2013 @ 11:15am
        mds1970 said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:15am | ! Report

        In the 1980s, first day of a Test against Pakistan. From memory that was the Test Greg Chappell & Dennis Lillee announced their retirements.

        • January 21st 2013 @ 11:24am
          Red Kev said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:24am | ! Report

          I’m sure I’ve seen it during an ODI sometime since 1991 as well – couldn’t tell you when, but when it was mentioned in the article I thought “I’ve seen that”

          • Roar Guru

            January 21st 2013 @ 5:28pm
            The_Wookie said | January 21st 2013 @ 5:28pm | ! Report

            Perhaps 1992 during the world cup. India v Sri Lanka game in McKay, Play still ended up being washed out.

        • January 21st 2013 @ 11:26am
          Atawhai Drive said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:26am | ! Report

          January 2, 1984. They didn’t get going until about 4pm.

          Rod Marsh joined Chappell and Lillee in retirement at the end of that Test

          • January 21st 2013 @ 11:28am
            Jason said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:28am | ! Report

            MArsh played the ODI series I think,

            • January 21st 2013 @ 11:33am
              Atawhai Drive said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:33am | ! Report

              He probably did. What about Lillee and Chappell? Did they make a clean break?

              • Roar Guru

                January 21st 2013 @ 11:53am
                Atawhai Drive said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:53am | ! Report

                During the break in play last night, Channel 9 replayed a one-dayer between Australia and the West Indies.

                I got into a Twitter exchange about when the match occurred. At first I went for 1984-85 but revised that to no later than 1983-84, because Rod Marsh was playing.

                Someone suggested late 1970s but I said it had to be 1982-83 or 83-84, because Kepler Wessels was playing for Australia.

                Eventually we established it was towards the end of the 1983-84 summer.

                So yes, Rod Marsh played on after his retirement from Tests.

                I almost certainly saw this game, which finished in a tie. Ties are supposed to be memorable. But I have no recollection whatsoever of seeing it then.

                The current ODI series against Sri Lanka will probably prove just as forgettable.

              • January 21st 2013 @ 12:24pm
                Jason said | January 21st 2013 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

                Ah. The famous tie. That was in 83-84. Geoff Lawson of all people was a batting hero but I seem to recall we got a very generous umpiring decision late. At the time, a tie against the Windies in any one dayer felt like winning the world cup.

              • Roar Guru

                January 21st 2013 @ 7:43pm
                sheek said | January 21st 2013 @ 7:43pm | ! Report

                AD,

                Chappell & Lillee retired after the Sydney test in early 1984. Marsh continued playing the one-dayers.

                Marsh still had some ambition left. He wantred to tour the West Indies & also harboured a thought that he might be offered as an alternative captain to Hughes.

                In the end the selectors told Marsh he was no longer required, so he retired at the end of the season also. Marsh had no reason to complain as his batting had detiorated considerably, while his keeping had also dropped below par. He was 36.

                The 1983/84 Sheffield Shield final (just the second to be played) featured Marsh & Lillee playing for WA & Chappell & Thomson playing for Queensland.

                Interestingly, the two champion fast bolwers were captain & WA won.

      • Roar Guru

        January 21st 2013 @ 5:27pm
        The_Wookie said | January 21st 2013 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

        remarkably this doesnt seem to be as rare an occurence as you’d think, particularly in Australia where it was also used during the 1992 World Cup to dry a pitch in McKay (India v Stri Lanka), its been done for Sydney Grade Cricket at the Uni oval no.2 last March. A domestic one day game at the Gabba used a helicopter in 1981 during a WA v QLD game that featured Hughes, Marsh, Lillee and Alderman. Its been done overseas as well on a few occasions.

        • January 21st 2013 @ 7:15pm
          Kersi Meher-Homji said | January 21st 2013 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

          Thank you, The_Wookie, for this info on helicopter-drying technique.

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