Hamilton loses Australia ODI
New Zealand Cricket has decided that Hamilton will not host a one-day international during Australia's tour which starts next month. Westpac Park was scheduled to host the fourth match of the series on March 2, but following criticism of the pitch there during New Zealand's match against the FICA World XI on January 26, the board decided that an alternative venue would be sought.
Martin Snedden, NZC's chief executive, said that the pitch had probably not settled completely since being laid in April 2004, and indicated that it might not match up to international standards. "We have decided to move the Australian ODI as we can't afford to risk the pitch for that match not being up to international standard. We need to ensure the match is played on a good-quality surface." The match is likely to shift to Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington.
"The Hamilton City Council has done tremendous work improving facilities and upgrading the quality of the ground at Westpac Park," said Snedden. "The issue with the wicket block is likely to be short term. With the exception of the pitch issues there were a large number of positives from the day [the January 26 match] which showed that the venue has the ability to successfully host ODIs.
"We made the decision to play Wednesday's match at Westpac Park based on previous experience with Waikari wicket-blocks. We had expected that the block would have settled enough to allow an acceptable playing surface to be prepared. That wasn't the case, and ultimately the responsibility for that decision rests with NZC.
"I am happy with the efforts of the Westpac Park turf-management team. The issue appears to be one with the block not settling as quickly as would be expected, rather than with the preparation of the playing surface."
The pitch at Hamilton came in for severe criticism, with Shane Warne, the World XI captain, suggesting that it wasn't upto international standards. The World team was bundled out for 81 in that game, and the match finished in just more than 35 overs, forcing the sides to play a ten-overs-a-side game.