Series reshaped after floodlights deemed unfit
The Twenty20 series between New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Florida - the first international series between two full ICC members to take place in the USA - has been reshaped after the ICC declared that the floodlights at the Broward County Regional Park, the venue, were unfit for hosting international cricket. The schedule will now involve New Zealand taking on Sri Lanka twice over the weekend in addition to two Twenty20 games between USA and Jamaica, who also play a 50-over one-day game on May 21.
"Ideally the inaugural game in the Pearls Cup series would have been a night game on Thursday," New Zealand Cricket CEO Justin Vaughan said. "The lights at the stadium are fine for most levels of cricket, but they need to be of a higher standard for the playing and broadcast of international cricket.
"And added to this, there is a high probability of rain and thunderstorms in the region on Thursday which added weight to our decision. Because of these factors, we have decided, along with our partner USA Cricket, to focus all of the attention on the weekend with the two double headers as well a full one-day international between USA and Jamaica on Friday the 21st."
The original plan was for a three-match Twenty20 series between New Zealand and Sri Lanka, which had been reduced to two back-to-back fixtures on May 21 and 22.
According to Don Lockerbie, the chief executive of USACA, the decision to cancel the opening fixture, scheduled for May 19, was taken in the interests of promoting USA cricket in the best possible light, with a thunderstorm threatening to wash out the opening fixture and damage the image of the sport as it seeks to find its niche in a new and untapped market.
"The original match was scheduled under lights, and we wanted to move it to the afternoon, but that's tough to pull off on an American working week," Lockerbie told Cricinfo. "We feel it's better to start with a big bang on the weekend, because it's about the USA and our strategic partner, New Zealand, trying to figure out what's best to grow cricket in our country."
However, Lockerbie played down suggestions that the decision had been made as a cost-cutting measure, following reports of poor ticket sales and low levels of sponsor interest. "This is really an important weekend for us," said Lockerbie. "We want to show the world we are open for business, and show that these teams have made a wise choice to come and play cricket in the US. But it's got to be done prudently. How many events all over the world get set up and then cancelled at the last minute due to inclement weather while the fans are in the stadium and the broadcasters have to talk through the rain? To us, at this stage of our development, that would be worse than making a smart business decision now."