Match abandoned New South Wales 1 for 88 (Cowan 48*) v Victoria
Match officials have been criticised by the SCG Trust for their decision to abandon the Sheffield Shield match between New South Wales and Victoria on day three due to an unsafe outfield.
Several Victorian players had slipped over on the second day of the rain-affected match as the Blues reached 1 for 88 after choosing to bat first, and the match referee Steve Bernard said that after making an inspection on the third afternoon the umpires decided that conditions had not improved.
"Umpires Simon Fry and Mike Graham-Smith inspected the ground at 12pm on day three," Bernard said, "and judged that a number of areas of the ground were unsafe and had not improved since the players were taken from the field on day two.
"The umpires concluded that these areas would not improve significantly over the remainder of the match and would continue to pose a risk to the fielding team. Player safety is paramount and it is with this in mind that they have made the difficult decision to abandon the remainder of this match."
On the second evening, the Victoria coach David Saker had described conditions as dangerous. "In first-class cricket you expect conditions to be suitable for cricket," he said. "The wicket's fantastic but the outfield and surrounds are quite poor and dangerous."
However the SCG Trust attacked the decision to call off the fixture, with the head curator Tom Parker declaring the outfield on day three was "in the best condition that it had been all match". "Given that there was no rain overnight," Parker said, "it was absolutely ready to host a match today."
"The Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust is disappointed that match officials chose to abandon the Sheffield Shield fixture between NSW and Victoria today," a Trust spokesman said. "Players and officials from both sides had described the pitch condition as fantastic.
"The infield and outfield condition was heavy after the ground received a month's rain in the past week. There was no rain recorded overnight on Saturday. The surface had been deemed fit for play on Friday and Saturday by match officials. The Trust supported the NSW Blues' decision to conduct a centre-wicket practice session after the abandonment of the match."
The Trust had also brought in another observer to judge the surface, past president of the International Turf Society Peter McMaugh. "There is no reason in my professional opinion why they shouldn't have been playing today," he said.
The match is the second first-class fixture in Sydney to be abandoned in as many weeks. New Zealand's final warm-up match ahead of the Gabba Test was abandoned after the tourists complained about the safety of a rapidly deteriorating pitch at Blacktown Sports Park, where the ground staff had been unable to grow grass on the wicket.