Friday , June 9 2023

Cricket: Delayed due to good weather – Explaining New Zealand cricket's bizarre phenomenon at McLean Park


Yesterday's ODI at McLean Park in Napier possibly created a first in New Zealand international cricket – a match that was delayed by good weather.

Yes, too much sun led to a 37-minute delay during the first ODI between the Black Caps and India, as the glare from the sunset over the stadium caused difficulties for the players to see.

It was understood to be the first occasion of happening during the middle of an international innings in New Zealand.

Two years ago, a Twenty20 against Bangladesh at McLean Park saw the same problem, but fortunately during the innings break and domestic cricket fans were aware of the "sunstrike", with a Twenty20 clash between Central Districts and Canterbury on Saturday being delayed for The same reason.

The unique phenomenon comes about in day-night games, when the sun set over the Chapman Stand. Because the McLean Park pitches are east-to-west, rather than the traditional north-to-south, the glare shines directly down the wicket when there is limited cloud cover. It most notably affects the batsmen and the fielders down on the leg and third man boundaries.

However, it was a new experience for many at the end of the day, with India at 44-1 in their chase of 158 for victory. It left the fans to unleash the Mexican wave as they waited for the shadow, with the Indian innings ending with just one over lost due to the delay – and their required chase reduced to 156, a target they reach eight wickets to spare.

Umpire Shaun George said the delay was a first for him in 14 years of umpiring, but explained why he utilised Law 2.7.2 – "Conditions shall be considered as dangerous if there is a real and foreseeable risk to the safety of any player or umpire "- to delay the game.

"We have a setting sun which is to take into consideration the safety of the players – not only the batsmen but the umpires and the players fielding behind the stumps as well," said George.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson noted that there was nothing that could be done about the situation.

"We knew that in some of the domestic Twenty 20 games that was the case, and [the glare] is fairly considerable so it did have to happen. It's hard to move the grandstand, we did not have either of those options so we had to sit down for a bit, "Williamson joked.

Still, it was not the greatest look for a ground which had not hosted an ODI in nearly four years. Drainage issues caused by farcical scenes in 2017 when an ODI against Australia was abandoned despite hours of sunshine – the second year in a row a game was called off due to a wet outfield. A $ 4.9 million investment later, and a new turf was ready for its first game, but there were still delayings, thanks to the sun.

There is one more international game being played at the end of February 13. But with Mount Maunganui's Bay Oval and Nelson's Saxton Oval pushing for more international cricket, McLean Park could be put under pressure when it comes to hosting more internationals.

However, Williamson was unflustered by the delay, and said he enjoyed returning to Napier.

"It's great to be back here in Napier playing cricket, they're a proud cricketing area and it's still a good crowd – albeit it maybe 80 per cent were Indian today, but that's still cool – and it is a great place to come and play.

"We've had a number of good results here, [yesterday] Of course not the case, but at the same time it's great that cricket's back here in Napier. "

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