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Race against time to fix "dangerous" SCG

Cricket

SCG officials are scrambling to resurface the troubled ground in a bid to be ready for the New Year’s Test following the embarrassing abandonment of NSW’s Sheffield Shield match with Victoria.

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Cricket Australia yesterday awarded Victoria a full six points for the match after the weekend’s game was called off because of concerns about the “dangerous” playing surface.

NSW’s Shield clash with Tasmania, due to begin on Saturday, has also been shifted from the SCG to Bankstown Oval.

The episode has angered NSW officials after CA was left with no choice but to award the points to Victoria because the Blues, as the home side, had failed to provide an adequate pitch.

Cricket NSW chief executive Andrew Jones said on Monday he’d been advised the SCG Trust, which administers the ground, intends to resurface the problem playing area.

“The informal advice is that it looks like they are planning to do that as soon as possible,” Jones said.

Asked if he was angry at the SCG Trust, Jones said: “I’m working through it.”

The four-day match was called off midway through day three on Sunday after match referee Steve Bernard deemed the playing surface dangerous.

CA insisted it was confident the SCG would be fit and ready to host the Australian team’s New Year’s Test against the West Indies starting on January 3.

“The Sydney Test is two months away. We have every confidence they will get the playing surface right for that match,” said CA head of cricket operations Sean Cary.

“We will have to make some checks on it between now and then and we are very hopeful they will get it right.”

The SCG Trust would not address suggestions that the ground’s curators had re-laid the turf following the conclusion of the AFL season but hadn’t left ample time for the surface to settle.

It also did not confirm or deny reports that curator Tom Parker had been absent for long stretches of the lead up to the game, leaving him unable to oversee the preparation of the playing surface.

The SCG Trust said it was hopeful of having the ground ready for NSW’s following Shield match with Queensland starting on November 27.

However the ground faces a questionable immediate future.

CA said it could not guarantee that the NSW v Queensland match would be played at the venue, as well as the Sydney Sixers’ Big Bash League home matches, the first of which will go ahead on December 20.

While the SCG Trust stood by the surface, Cricket Victoria said their players risked injury had they stayed out there, pointing out that Aaron Finch had jarred his knee while fielding.

“Player safety is paramount … that is their livelihoods,” Cricket Victoria chief executive Tony Dodemaide said.

“There were a lot of Australian players out there.

“Aaron Finch is the Australian T20 captain and for him to have a significant knee injury it would have been incredibly serious, so I think the right call was made in the end.”

NSW coach Trent Johnston has questioned why play was not given the chance to continue into a fourth day and said it had been prematurely called off after the wet weather cleared on Sunday and Monday.

Former NSW and Test wicketkeeper Brad Haddin took a swipe at the Victorians, accusing them of whingeing.

“I think if it had have been anyone else, there would have been a chance to get on,” Haddin told the Big Sports Breakfast radio program.

“The SCG traditionally drains outstanding, so even after those downfalls, you’re on in an hour after they’ve cleaned it up.”

-Steve Zemek, Roger Vaughan and Laine Clark, AAP

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