England v West Indies, 1st ODI, Headingley

Regan defends saturated Headingley

Andrew McGlashan at Headingley

May 21, 2009

Comments: 3 | Text size: A | A

England v West Indies - Match abandoned
Scorecard


Overcast conditions at the start of the game, England v West Indies, 1st ODI, Headingley, May 21, 2009
A dank scene over Headingley and even when the sun came the problems didn't stop © Getty Images
Enlarge
Related Links
Stewart Regan, the Yorkshire chief executive, was forced to defend the club's new drainage system after the first one-day international between England and West Indies at Headingley was abandoned shortly after 3pm, following torrential morning rain left the newly relayed outfield saturated. Umpires Nigel Llong and Steve Davis conducted several pitch inspections but although the weather itself improved, the outfield remained drenched. Regan, however, insisted the system would be working perfectly come the Ashes.

"We are all very disappointed with the outcome today," Regan said. "What you saw was a torrential downpour last night and another this morning and the water has that in the thatch of the grass and hasn't drained away quickly enough.

"We are confident it will be able to handle major downpours, that's why we are investing in it and as it continues to bed in then of course it will improve. This is not about blaming but about trying to understand what has happened and recognising that this drainage system will improve and get better."

Rain had fallen overnight and hammered down again at about 9.30am for two hours, then just as the groundstaff had started to remove the covers, another burst swept over the ground. Puddles began forming on the outfield and some areas around the boundary resembled a swamp.

By late afternoon the sun was shining, but the outfield remained unplayable. Those that remained from an 11,000-strong crowd made their frustrations known, but the England players did their part when they went out to sign autographs (as they did in Antigua when that Test was abandoned in February). However, the whole day raised serious questions about the timing of Yorkshire's project to relay the outfield and hosting an international just seven weeks after completion.

The club spent a £600,000 ECB grant on the new drainage over the winter, but the outfield hasn't yet had a chance to properly bed down so that it can work at its optimum level. High standards are expected these days after the success of the Lord's version which allows play very quickly even after torrential rain, such as occurred in the first Test against India in 2007.

The project fell behind schedule and the turf was only laid at the beginning of April when the club had hoped to complete the work by March. "This sort of project doesn't happen overnight, it takes time for it to bed in and we are all disappointed with how we have ended up," Regan said.

The delay in completing the work meant that the groundstaff haven't been able to aerate the outfield and allow it to drain fully due to the risk of damaging the turf. The outfield was signed off by the ECB on April 30, mid-way through the Championship match against Worcestershire which was also hit by the weather, and Regan insisted that the ground had been ready to host an international and rejected calls that it should have been moved to another venue.

"As of last night the weather was perfect, the outfield had been signed off and the forecast was good," he said. "We were all happy with it and the ECB were happy with, we have just had some very unusual circumstances. We are very disappointed for the public and nobody likes upsetting spectators, but you can't legislate for the rain. We live in a country that gets more than most.

"We've played three major [county] matches here and they played perfectly well. The umpires were delighted and the pitch inspector from the ECB was delighted. I think the key issue here is that there were two torrential downpours and the water couldn't drain away quick enough."

The ECB has given six counties the grants towards providing new drainage facilities in order that as much playing time as possible is saved, but that doesn't mean that counties aren't allowed to put extra funding in themselves.

The club are spending £21million on a new pavilion at the Kirkstall Lane End which is largely funded by Leeds Metropolitan University, but that is also behind schedule and the ground will resemble a building site for the Ashes. It was due to be completed for the fourth Test in August, but now won't be completed until 2010, while £500,000 has also been spent on a new replay screen. However, Regan said there wasn't any more money to invest in a more advanced drainage system.

"It's very easy to say spend [an extra] £400,000, but that money simply doesn't exist," he said. "The £600,000 is deemed sufficient to put in a drainage system capable of doing the job and that's what we've got. What we have here are unusual circumstances and torrential rain and any ground would have struggled to cope, apart from Lord's."

This abandoned match means two of the Ashes venues have had serious issues with their playing surface recently. Last week, Glamorgan were docked points following a Friends Provident tie against Essex, after the Cardiff pitch was rated 'poor' for taking excessive turn.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

RSS Feeds: Andrew McGlashan

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by FieryFred on (May 22, 2009, 16:28 GMT)

Other counties spent £1m on their drainage schemes and Yorkshire did it on the cheap with insufficient planning. This is not new technology. Old Trafford have had a system for five years. Headingley should not have any international matches until it is up to scratch.

Posted by delboy on (May 22, 2009, 11:19 GMT)

Zimbabwe 2 ICC 0!.....................................

Posted by buzza10 on (May 22, 2009, 9:29 GMT)

easy way to avoid this - don't have cricket matches in the north :) it rains more up there.

Was this unavoidable, are are cricket's authorities putting money before common sense?
Comments have now been closed for this article

TopTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
Tour Results
Sri Lanka v West Indies at The Oval - Jun 19, 2009
Sri Lanka won by 57 runs
England v West Indies at The Oval - Jun 15, 2009
West Indies won by 5 wickets (with 4 balls remaining) (D/L method)
South Africa v West Indies at The Oval - Jun 13, 2009
South Africa won by 20 runs
India v West Indies at Lord's - Jun 12, 2009
West Indies won by 7 wickets (with 8 balls remaining)
Sri Lanka v West Indies at Nottingham - Jun 10, 2009
Sri Lanka won by 15 runs
More results »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days