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‘A debacle’

The groundsman re-marks the QE Park Oval pitch, which had been marked out 2.8 metres too long. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Play stopped, new game started


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‘Embarrassing. Inexcusable. A debacle. Unbelievable. It’s something that will be talked about at the T20 World Cup.’

That’s just some of the reaction to the Queen Elizabeth Park Oval cricket pitch that was 2.8 metres too long in the Furlong Cup match between Post Office Hotel Wairarapa and Manawatu on Saturday.

Manawatu won the toss and decided to bat first in the two-day fixture, but it only took Wairarapa strike bowler Stefan Hook two balls to realise that there was something amiss with the pitch, which he promptly pointed out to umpire Tim Shirriffs.

This was despite regular complaints from Hook and the other bowlers, who struggled to find their rhythm and “hit the right lengths”, it took Shirriffs and fellow umpire Pankaj Girhotra a remarkable 12 overs to come together and check the pitch measurements and discover that it had been marked out at nearly 23 metres, instead of the required 20.12 metres [or 22 yards].

Not surprisingly the Manawatu openers Bevan Small and Mason Hughes had looked comfortable and had progressed the score to 50 without loss.

Play was immediately stopped, and the pitch was re-marked by Recreation Services ground staff. After a delay of about 45 minutes, and after consultation with Central Districts competition co-ordinator Scott Briasco, a new game was commenced.

It is understood the pitch had been marked out on Friday by a visiting groundsman from Horowhenua. However, the final responsibility rested with the umpires.

Wairarapa coach Neil Perry said he had never seen anything like it in his 40 years involvement with cricket.

Ground staff and umpire Pankaj Girhotra check the measurements of the re-marked pitch.

“Absolutely unbelievable that it happened. Unbelievable that the umpires didn’t pick it up, and unbelievable that nothing happened sooner considering Stefan was complaining to the umpires after the second ball saying that there’s something not right here,” said Perry.

“It’s something I reckon will get talked about at the T20 World Cup.”

Perry said that it wasn’t a cricket pitch because there are very definite dimensions, and one could argue that a game can’t even start if the measurements are wrong, unlike a football pitch that is a metre too long, where a game could easily be played.

Manawatu coach Luke Murray was frustrated at the time because his team had made a good start, but he partly attributed that to the batters having an extra 2.8m to play with.

“It is what it is, and we got on with it in the end. I’m very surprised; I thought it would be a pretty standard thing for the umpires, but I guess you presume it’s all good,” said Murray.

“The bowlers felt it pretty quickly but they [the umpires] just took their time to actually realise it was wrong. It was an interesting day.”

Perry said there were no issues between the two teams over the debacle.

“We have a good relationship with Manawatu, and they were fantastic about it, and we were good about it.

“But probably that extra time that we had in the field came to bite us at the end of the day, because we were in the field for 100 overs.”

Wairarapa Cricket general manager Simon Roseingrave has already apologised to Manawatu Cricket over the mishap and said that a full investigation will be held with the ground contractor Recreational Services and Masterton District Council to avoid any similar incidents in the future.

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