Heavy smoke has denied the Sydney Thunder a Big Bash League victory over the Adelaide Strikers, with their chase halted in Canberra after 4.2 overs because of concerns about air quality and visibility.
- Sydney Thunder were well ahead of the adjusted target when the game was abandoned 4.2 overs into the second innings
- Air quality, player visibility was discussed before the match, but conditions were deemed good enough to play
- A wind change during the innings break brought thick bushfire smoke that covered Manuka Oval
The ladder-leading Thunder, set a target of 162, reached 1-40 when umpires stopped play at Manuka Oval on Saturday night.
The match was abandoned soon after, meaning the points were split as BBL rules dictate a minimum of five overs is required in the second innings to constitute a game.
The Thunder were comfortably ahead of the adjusted target, essentially falling four balls short of victory.
The BBL confirmed “dangerous and unreasonable playing conditions” were behind the abandonment. (AAP: Lukas Coch)
Thunder captain Callum Ferguson, who finished 27 not out, fumed when umpires Paul Wilson and Sam Nogajski told him they were halting play during Rashid Khan’s opening over.
“Callum’s out there — we’ve worked bloody hard, we’re probably going to win — with the emotion of it, he’s disappointed as we all are,” Sydney Thunder coach Shane Bond said.
“But you have to stop, take a breath and say losing a point is not the same as losing your house. There’s some perspective there.
“In the heat of the moment there’s always a little bit of emotion but you calm down and ultimately we take a point and played well, so we’re happy.”
Spectators covered their faces as the smoke haze rolled through and forced the stoppage of play. (AAP: Lukas Coch)
The BBL confirmed “dangerous and unreasonable playing conditions” prompted the abandonment, with poor visibility believed to be the umpires’ main concern.
It is the second season in a row the Thunder have been denied a victory because of events outside their control, coming after the power went out at the Gabba when they were poised to defeat Brisbane Heat.
Air Quality Index (AQI) data and players’ visibility was discussed at a pre-match medical briefing but officials decided conditions were good enough to play.
A wind change brought the smoke through Manuka Oval during the innings break. (AAP: Lukas Coch)
That proved the case as Adelaide compiled a total of 5-161, thanks largely to Jon Wells (55 not out), Alex Carey (45) and Jake Weatherald (42).
But winds changed at the innings break and thick bushfire smoke soon covered the venue.
“It came in quite quick … we’ve got player safety we have to take into account. It’s pretty unprecedented,” Strikers coach Jason Gillespie said on Fox.
“It’s not just players, umpires and the like. We’ve got a lot of spectators here.
“These are the playing conditions in place, the umpires are just applying that.
“Being able to see the ball is pretty fundamental in our sport, but also the respiratory situation is something that needs to be considered.”
Daniel Sams had built a perfect platform for the Thunder to push for their third win of the season, at one stage boasting the remarkable figures of 2-9 from three overs.
Sams started the night by delivering the first maiden of the tournament then later snapped a 60-run stand between Carey and Weatherald, deceiving the latter with a slower ball that skittled the stumps.