SCG fiasco forces review of facilities
Embarrassment caused by the abandonment of the Sheffield Shield match between New South Wales and Victoria at the SCG has forced a review of the ground's transition from football to cricket season and a commitment by Cricket NSW, the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sports Trust to work more closely together in future.
Cricket Australia will also be involved in the review, which will look into the factors that contributed to the ground's surface being deemed unfit for play between the Blues and the Bushrangers. Issues such as scheduling, climate and the technology available to the head curator Tom Parker and his ground staff will all be explored, as the ground seeks to meet the world's best practice standards after the fiasco seen at the weekend.
Emergency talks between the Trust and their cricketing tenants have resulted in several other measures designed to prevent a repeat, including a revised field of play inspection protocol in the lead-up to any men's or women's first-class or international fixture; an updated post-match review process and the formation of a joint working party to manage the NSW team's training needs, with the ultimate goal of producing a new practice facilities plan.
All these moves have been discussed and argued over in the past, but the loss of outright points for the NSW state team on their home ground and damaging headlines across the country have brought them to a head. In this, the abandoned Shield match may be seen as a catalyst for change in the same way the loss of the Ashes to England in Australia in 2010-11 wrought fundamental change to CA's team-performance arm.
"Cricket NSW has a long and proud tradition at the Sydney Cricket Ground, one of the most iconic cricket grounds in the world," John Warn, the CNSW chairman, said. "Cricket NSW is keen to enhance that tradition by working closely with the SCG Trust to ensure that the playing surface and training facilities are of world-class standard.
"It was disappointing that the recent Sheffield Shield match against Victoria had to be abandoned after match officials ruled the playing surface unsafe, forcing the following Shield game beginning on Saturday against Tasmania to be relocated to Bankstown. Cricket NSW and the SCG Trust have had positive discussions about how to achieve and maintain the high standards required for first-class and international cricket."
Tony Shepherd, the chairman of the SCG Trust, acknowledged that "without cricket, there is no Sydney Cricket Ground". "Cricket NSW's commitment to excellence can be seen in the vast numbers of Australian players produced and the record 46 Sheffield Shield wins," he said. "They expect that same standard of excellence at their home ground and the Trust will work closely with Cricket NSW to ensure that this is the case."
After the loss of the SCG's next Shield fixture to Bankstown Oval as a result of concerns about the playing surface, the ground is expected to have improved sufficiently to host first-class cricket in time for the next fixture on from November 27.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig