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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Ruthven

Lessons to be learned from Geelong pitch debacle

Former Australian and Victorian leg-spinner Bryce McGain says the pitch at GMHBA Stadium looked “dodgy” and unexpected at Big Bash League level following Sunday’s match abandonment. 

Umpires called off the match deeming the pitch too unsafe to continue. Reports state water had gotten into the pitch overnight following heavy rainfall the day before. 

The game was called off with Scorchers batsman Josh Inglis at the crease, facing several dangerous, bouncy deliveries. 

McGain told SportFM Breakfast that grounds staff spent additional time rolling the pitch pre-match to remove the moisture, but there was not the sunshine available to dry it out, resulting in a soft pitch.

“It is a really good boutique oval, it’s just a shame they didn’t quite cover it as sufficiently. It was just a single cover over this one wicket, and with the rain we had on Saturday, it did get underneath.” 

Following the unprecedented circumstances around Sunday’s match abandonment, McGain says there will be “lessons learned” when it comes to pitch preparation at BBL level.

“There’ll be some messages coming from above to the grounds staff to be on the top of their game and maybe even have some extra people available to make the covers and the extent of covers work a bit better. 

“There’s a premier cricket club that plays out the back of the stadium and they have full square covers available there. I don’t know whether they were on the pitch or just around, it didn’t appear so and they were unsighted anywhere.

“Cricket can’t afford, particularly at that higher level, to have washouts due to water seeping under covers. It seems ludicrous.

This comes just days after the Adelaide Strikers opening match against the Brisbane Heat was washed out without a ball bowled in Adelaide. Both sides have split the points. 

Earlier, Cricket Australia announced the 2023-24 BBL schedule would be reduced from 61 matches to 44, including 4 finals. 

McGain believes in a shortened season, every result matters in its early stages, as teams may find it difficult to get going later on, especially when is unavoidable. 

“In the past, we’ve seen that teams really get on a roll late. That horse would have bolted in a ten-game season.  

“You can’t help it when it's raining from up above, but when the rain’s gone, and it's all clear and you still can’t get a game on there, that is the disappointing aspect in this instance.

Although the Renegades and Scorchers will share the points, the possibility of having the match rescheduled is being discussed. To McGain, it’s “common sense,” suggesting Junction Oval as an alternative venue.

“I know that’s not really a Big Bash venue, but they certainly play first-class cricket there. There was a trial game for Victoria Country played there yesterday, and then in the evening we couldn’t get on to a facility just an hour down the road because the wicket got wet.

“It’s a terrific idea and why not be able to continue the tournament?”

IMAGE: Sydney Morning Herald


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