The outfields at Kingsmead and Queen’s Park Oval have been rated poor by the ICC match referees who oversaw the washed out Tests between South Africa and New Zealand in Durban, and West Indies and India in Trinidad.
The ICC said the officials – Andy Pycroft in Durban and Ranjan Madugalle in Trinidad – had expressed concerns in accordance with clause three of the Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process. The match referees’ reports have been forwarded to the concerned home boards, the WICB and Cricket South Africa, which now have 14 days to respond. CSA’s response, the ICC said, will be reviewed by ICC general manager, cricket, Geoff Allardice, while match referee David Boon will assess the WICB’s reply.
Then, as per the rules, the grounds will either receive a warning or a fine not exceeding USD 15,000, along with “a directive for appropriate corrective action”. A repeat offence over the next five years would draw a fine not exceeding USD 30,000.
In all, 11 sessions out of 15 were lost to a wet and soft outfield at Kingsmead, while in Port of Spain West Indies and India were able to play only one session across five days.
It was the first Test played in Trinidad in August, which is the wet season there, and rain had hampered preparations in the days leading up to the match but during the game itself there was largely sunshine. However, with there not being enough covers at the ground to protect the bowlers’ run-ups or the outfield, and no super sopper available either, the outfield did not recover enough to allow play. The draw meant that India, who needed to win the Test to retain their No. 1 Test ranking, lost the top spot to Pakistan. The Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board had already said it would investigate the reasons behind the washout.
The Durban Test was also scheduled in what is traditionally the off season in South Africa, during the winter. Rain forced the players off the field around lunch on day two, and the big damage was done to the outfield that night, when the ground took 65mm of water. Here, too, the covers did not protect large parts of the field, and the super sopper was made to stop operating for fear it would do further damage to the soft patches that persisted into day five despite no more rain falling.
There were concerns over the Kingsmead outfield being underprepared even before the match began, as it had been relaid in June following complaints from South Africa and New Zealand that the surface was too hard during the limited-overs games played there last year. Similar comments were levelled at Centurion, the venue of the upcoming second Test, but the SuperSport Park outfield was relaid in April once the season ended; work could not get underway at Kingsmead till the Comrades Marathon – for which it is the ending point – was completed on May 29.