The ICC has handed official warnings under its pitch and outfield monitoring process to Kingsmead in Durban and the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain.
Kingsmead hosted the first Test between South Africa and New Zealand from August 19 to 23, and the Queen’s Park Oval the fourth Test between West Indies and India from August 18 to 22. Both matches were heavily curtailed because of outfield conditions.
Andy Pycroft and Ranjan Madugalle, the match referees for the two Tests, both rated the outfields “poor” in their official reports. Madugalle and Geoff Allardice, the ICC’s general manager, reviewed CSA’s response to the “poor” rating, while Allardice and match referee David Boon reviewed WICB’s response.
Since this was the first occasion either ground had received a “poor” rating, the grounds stood to receive either a warning or a fine not exceeding USD 15,000, along with “a directive for appropriate corrective action”.
“The sanctions take into account Durban and Port of Spain venues’ history of producing good conditions for international cricket and commitment by both the boards to take appropriate steps to ensure similar events are not repeated in future,” an ICC release said.
In all, 11 sessions out of 15 were lost to a wet and soft outfield at Kingsmead, while only 22 overs of play were possible in the Port-of-Spain Test, with no play at all on days two, three, four and five despite largely sunny weather. The outfield was rated as poor by match referee Ranjan Madugalle which led to the QPCC and TTCB launching an investigation into the cause.
Reports from several agencies including the Departments of Engineering and Agriculture at UWI St. Augustine, Turf Care Solutions: A Turf Management Consultant and Monteco (the outfield maintenance contractor at QPCC), were acquired following their analysis of the situation.
QPCC/TTCB then compiled a report on the findings and made recommendations to prevent any reoccurrence. This report was sent to the WICB and then forwarded to the ICC. The report points to the excessive rainfall in the period prior to and during the match as the main reason for the field being declared poor given the high levels of saturation. The match was the first ever to be hosted at this time of the year in Trinidad and Tobago.
The sanction imposed on this occasion is an Official Warning. The ICC also requests, prior to the commencement of the next series during which matches are played at this venue, a report on the actions taken to improve the condition of the outfield, as recommended in the report.
Meanwhile, Queen’s Park has already begun to implement the recommendation received to avoid a repeat of this situation. Queen’s Park president Deryck Murray said they will do everything in their power to ensure there is never a re-occurrence of that problem. “We have already started implementing recommendations for a solution to the problem and hopefully we will be ready for local, regional and international cricket very soon” he explained.
The former West Indies wicketkeeper did not give a timeline for the completion of work but said they will give serious consideration to the fact that the sport is played all year round. According to Murray, QPCC will work closely with the cricket board to ensure the problem is rectified.
Additionally, QPCC and TTCB wish to apologise to all its stakeholders and the wider cricket fraternity for any embarrassment which may have been caused by this eventuality, saying it was beyond its control.