Chappell-Hadlee Trophy 2005-06 December 4, 2005

NZ tightens crowd control to protect Australian cricketers


Ricky Ponting turned to the umpires after bad behaviour from the crowd interrupted play at Eden Park © Getty Images
The New Zealand cricket authorities have taken the unprecedented move of placing a buffer between players and fans for the remaining matches in the current Chappell-Hadlee Trophy against Australia, following unruly crowd behaviour during the first one-day match at Eden Park on Saturday.

In a bid to avoid a repeat of the ground invasions and projectile throwing that marred the opening match, the front three rows of seats will be empty for the matches at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on December 7 and the Jade Stadium in Christchurch on December 10. The dramatic step was taken following a meeting involving New Zealand cricket officials, the police and security staff which reviewed the disorderly conduct that angered the Australians in Auckland.

Peter Dwan, New Zealand Cricket marketing manager, said there was a firm commitment from all parties to make safety the No. 1 priority for the remainder of the series. "It is disappointing to have to move to this level," Dwan said. "But first and foremost, the well-being of the players and the officials is paramount to New Zealand Cricket."

It is hoped the buffer and the introduction of a security officer assigned to all boundary fielders will alleviate the problem. Dwan said erecting high fences as is done at major soccer venues worldwide, was not yet an option.

Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain, voiced his concern over the safety of team-mates Brett Lee and Brad Hogg after both had fruit and plastic bottles thrown at them. "It ruins the game of cricket," Ponting said. "Brett was missed by quite a few pieces. We put Hoggy down there and it didn't end up much better."

There were four ground invasions at Eden Park where Australia crushed New Zealand by 147 runs. Wellington will provide a stern test of the new policies with several instances of objects and abuse thrown at Australian fielders when they were last here in February.