February 7, 2002

Pitch dry under tent but play not certain

If it stops raining here by tomorrow morning, the second tri-series final will go ahead as scheduled, according to Sydney Cricket Ground curator Tom Parker.

"If the rain stopped at 9am tomorrow it would help us immensely," Parker said on the eve of the second final between South Africa and New Zealand.

"What we need is the rain to stop - we need that something terrible."

However, that looked unlikely, with the forecasters predicting thunderstorms tomorrow.

If the rain continued through the day, Parker said it would then be up to the match referee and umpires to decided on a cancellation.

There must be 25 overs per side to constitute a game, meaning play can start as late as 6pm.

If the match was called-off, Sunday's scheduled third final would be the deciding match in the series.

The forecast for Sunday is for the sun to break through.

Parker admitted he'd been through the toughest week of his life as a groundsman with his staff working around the clock for the past two days to get the pitch ready.

Groundstaff have been working under a marquee which measures 30 metres by 10 metres and Parker said the tent had kept the pitch dry.

"It's the hardest job I've had - it's something unique making a wicket under a marquee."

He said there was no danger of the pitch being under-prepared.

"There's no way it'll be dangerous at all. If anything it'll play a little slow and a little low - I term it playable at this stage," Parker said.

"Everything's up to scratch at the moment but it's been a big battle for us over the past few days.

"We've been working 24 hours a day to get a wicket ready. At the moment the wicket itself is very dry and very flat and devoid of grass."