updated

January 02, 2020 6:21:23 PM

Australian skipper Tim Paine says he is not worried about losing the game on the Sydney test due to poor air quality, but admits that if conditions get too smoky, players will have to leave SCG.

Key points:

  • Any decision on stopping play due to smoke or haze will be made by ICC referee Richie Richardson
  • However Cricket Australia spoke with officials and the ICC about smoking protocols
  • Two ODI meetings between Australia and New Zealand in March will raise funds for the Australian Red Cross to help people affected by forest fires

The Australian game’s final game against New Zealand will be played during an incessant emergency in New South Wales.

A series of fires on New Year’s Eve on the south coast of the state resulted in seven deaths and the destruction of hundreds of homes. Huge fires are raging across the border in eastern Victoria.

Conditions are expected to worsen on Saturday, with temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius and strong winds, including the western Sydney area.

While no fires are expected in the vicinity of SCG, if smoke reaches the ground and visibility or air quality becomes an issue, the game could be stopped.

That final decision would be up to the ICC match referee and the former West Indies big test Richie Richardson and the referees, based on monitoring the air quality readings.

“At the moment I am not [concerned]but we are fortunate that in the Australian set-up we have world-class doctors and people who have been put in place to make those decisions, “Paine told SCG reporters.

“As a band playing we are just focusing on what we can control, what is going out and playing, and we will do it until we are told otherwise.

“I was given some sort of rough guide, but basically when it gets smoky, we are going out.

“Our doctor, I think, is saying something great in reading air quality levels and things like that, so I think it’s all ready, we know the number. If it happens it happens, and unfortunately it’s life.”

Although Richardson has the final say, Cricket Australia will have a strong involvement and is communicating with race officials and the ICC on smoking protocols.

Cricket Australia has promised not to put players, officials and fans at risk.

Doctors will be asked to provide referees with player feedback, particularly if they have difficulty breathing or have eye pain.

“We will not endanger the health of players, nor endanger the health of match officials, match fans or our employees,” said CA chief Kevin Roberts.

“This is something that we will constantly follow during the five days of the game. It is a daily proposal.

“We worked closely with the ICC and also collaborated with the Environment department in New South Wales.

“It is fair to say that this is a collaborative exercise and we will continue to get expert advice.”

A game of Big Bash League Twenty20 has already been canceled this summer due to the haze of smoking and conditions deemed unhealthy for players.

However, a game of Sheffield Shield at the SCG between NSW and Queensland was completed in early December despite a strong haze of smoke on the ground due to forest fires.

Part of the challenge is the range of air quality guidelines, with the New South Wales government setting a reading of 200 as dangerous and that the ICC has that level at 300.

Australian officials have already implemented a heat policy in first-class cricket and will aim to implement more air quality frameworks for the coming season.

“If we have delays in smoking that also go collectively throughout the day, we can still adjust to the amount of over the course of the game,” said Roberts.

“We have to treat it like rain delays, but smoking delays. It was a simple piece of wisdom to get out of (preparations).

“It’s up to us to understand the risks, what alternatives we have to deal with.”

The game can be extended by half an hour on the day of any delay and by half an hour on any subsequent day to make up for time.

The New Zealand tour team has another health problem before the game, with skipper Kane Williamson and teammate Henry Nicholls not training for the second consecutive day due to flu-like symptoms.

Black Caps’ Tom Latham said Williamson should have played.

The ODI to be used to raise funds for fire victims

Cricket Australia announced that on the first day, players from both teams would wear black bracelets and pay homage to those who fought the fires during the anthem ceremony.

A minute of applause will follow.

While the Sydney Test fundraiser – also known as Pink Test – will go to the McGrath Foundation as usual, CA and SCG Trust say the two-game ODI series between Australia and New Zealand in March will be dedicated to fundraising for the Cross Australian red in support of people affected by forest fires.

The shirts of the players of the Santo Stefano tests will be auctioned today, with proceeds destined for the Australian Red Cross.

ABC / AAP

Themes:

sport,

cricket,

fires,

air pollution,

Health,

sydney-2000

NSW,

Australia,

New Zeland

First published

January 02, 2020, 6:00 p.m.

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