TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
THAT’S not the breeze from the nearby Indian Ocean you can hear at Kingsmead – it’s a sigh of relief at the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) ruling on the ruined first test between SA and New Zealand at the ground last month.
Only 99.4 out of a possible 450 overs were bowled, largely because the 64 millimetres of rain that fell on the second night of the match prompted the umpires to scrap play on each of the three remaining days because of an outfield they deemed unplayable.
Match referee Andy Pycroft subsequently rated the outfield, which was dug up seven weeks before the match on Cricket SA’s (CSA) order, did not recover in time and was reduced to a quagmire by unseasonal rain, as “poor”.
That exposed Kingsmead, according to the ICC’s “pitch and outfield monitoring process”, to punishment of “a warning and/or a fine not exceeding US$15 000 given together with a directive for appropriate corrective action”.
Happily the ICC said on Thursday the warning would suffice.
Queens Park Oval in Port-of-Spain, where the fourth test between West Indies and India last month was similarly afflicted, was dealt the same hand.
“The sanctions take into account Durban and Port-of-Spain venues’ history of producing good conditions for international cricket and commitment by both the boards to take appropriate steps to ensure similar events are not repeated in future,” an ICC release said.
Accordingly a CSA delegation will visit Kingsmead on Monday to ensure there is no repeat of the outfield episode.
They will find the KwaZulu-Natalians are way ahead of them.
“We’ve flushed the drainage system, replanted grass and fertilised everything,” KZN Cricket Union president Fa-eez Jaffar said on Thursday. “Everything seems to be back on track.”
Good. Because Kingsmead will be in the spotlight again on October 5, when SA and Australia play the third one-day international there.