Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Pitch drama at the Shield game in Adelaide. The umpires had no choice but to intervene and inspect the concerned areas of the pitch.
The umpires had no choice but to intervene and inspect the concerned areas of the pitch.
The sun came out for the first time at 5 pm on Tuesday (November 23) in Adelaide. It was possibly the best weather we'd seen all day long at the Karen Rolton Oval for the cricket. But there was no cricket on. Instead, some of the Queensland players were sat in their dressing-room playing cards. The rest of them were busy playing “rock-paper-scissors” to determine team combinations for their game of volley-tennis.
Play had been suspended half-hour prior to the sudden breakout of these extracurricular activities. The two captains, Usman Khawaja and Travis Head, had just completed their multiple rounds of meetings with the two umpires and match referee Steve Davis. And it was the ground-staff who spent the best part of an otherwise dreary and gloomy day in the middle.
The decision to prematurely call it a day had been taken by the match officials due to some wet spots on the pitch that Davis described as having “a potential to be dangerous”. They had indeed seemed dangerous too on a few occasions, especially when Marnus Labuschagne had been on strike and facing the fast bowlers from the Royal Adelaide Hospital or Port Road End.
Labuschagne had in fact walked in to bat after Joe Burns was caught gloving a delivery that reared up on him from one of those spots, causing a mini-explosion of dust from the pitch. The Queensland opener had left after giving the pitch a rueful look.
Not too dissimilar to the ones that Labuschagne would give the surface, which curator Trent Kelly had to prepare on the farthest end of the square after the Sheffield Shield game was officially scheduled here late on Sunday evening. Labuschagne was taken by surprise on at least three occasions by David Grant before the tea break. On the first occasion, it was a delivery that had him jumping off his feet, then came one that had him fending awkwardly before he was struck on his hand. This led to a mini-break in play as Labuschagne took his glove off, inspected his fingers, and thumb in particular, even though the team physio didn't deem it serious enough to run out to take a look. Australia's Test No.3 continued to battle on but didn't look very chuffed about his stay in the middle.
The pitch itself had looked tacky from the time Head won the toss and elected to field, some two hours after the scheduled start of play. It had rained all morning and the drizzle stayed put long after the teams got to the ground. Burns and his opening partner Bryce Street looked mostly at ease at the crease but run-scoring did seem quite a hassle. The South Australian bowlers to their credit kept hitting the right lengths for most parts, and the double-paced nature of the pitch never allowed the visitors to get away. Street certainly looked the more settled of the two but got most of his runs through nudges or the occasional drive off the very full deliveries.
The game really came to life once legspinner Lloyd Pope got the ball but the real damage to the future of the contest came from the other end every time one of the seamers landed the ball one of the two wet spots. Two deliveries right after the break, both from Nathan McAndrew to Labuschagne, led to the eventual suspension of play, as the right-hander was rushed into some challenging positions in the crease. The second delivery struck him on the glove and ballooned over the slip cordon. Labuschagne asked for a full-coverage arm guard at the end of that McAndrew over to go with his continuing uneasiness with the pitch.
The umpires had no choice but to intervene and inspect the concerned areas of the pitch, leading to more discussions and the final decision to walk the players off the field.
“There's a particular area of concern that's being operated on now, and that's why the players came off the field…What we're trying to do is just get some play, but it's obvious from the way the ball has behaved recently that was going to create a bit of a problem and the umpires were quite right to come off,” said the match referee.
“There was a couple of people that were hit on the gloves and in the stomach area, and it was just behaving a bit unusually and that always gives you a bit of an alert. Then the umpires decided to bring them off and see what we can do about it. The playing conditions say the umpires can allow anything that can be done to make the game continue, and we clarified that with CA as well,” he added.
Davis acknowledged how “reasonable” the two captains had been about the decisions taken during their meetings with the match officials. The decision for the day was made to allow the ground-staff the opportunity to do some “remedial work” with a “tamper” (garden tool), that is generally used to straighten the bowler's foot marks in their delivery strides. They were also asked to them roll the pitch for seven minutes as per the playing conditions.
The hopeful aspect of the issue according to Davis was that the area of concern wasn't “undulated” was instead a result of the dampness underneath.
“It's an area where the ball is sticking a bit, so there's obviously some dampness underneath … it's only about a metre square but obviously once you see a ball doing that, if you're any sort of bowler you're going to aim for that spot,” he said.
The hope is that the customary rolling of the pitch on the morning of each day's play on Wednesday could well sort the matter out. The worry though is that it rained through the night in Adelaide and threatens to do so for most parts of what will be Day 2 of this much-anticipated Shield match. And Davis didn't rule out any eventuality at this stage, but did admit that the players' safety would be “paramount” as to whatever decision gets made.
“Nobody's got any guarantees on what this work will do. The head groundsman is quite confident this will help that situation, but until we get back on tomorrow and see how the ball behaves, we won't know. There's all sorts of possibilities, but if it did it again you'd have to question ‘well that didn't work, what can we do now'. And obviously, the safety of players is paramount, and both teams are keen to progress with the game.”
For now, it also means that the potential bat-off between Khawaja and Head also hangs in the balance. “For now, it also means that the potential bat-off between Khawaja and Head also hangs in the balance, and you'd hope that it doesn't come down to being decided over a game of cards or volley-tennis.”