Sun stops play after dinner. Sounds bizarre? But this is what happened in the first India-New Zealand ODI at the McLean Park Wednesday.
Play was interrupted when the sun made it difficult for the batsmen to spot the ball, leading to an interruption that has never been seen in international cricket before.
The decision to halt play was taken keeping the players’ safety in mind and sun stroke considerations, on-field umpire Shaun George said.
The reason this happens at McLean Park is because of the east-west alignment of the pitches at the ground. Most cricket grounds have pitches running north to south.
Normally, the cricket pitches are positioned in the North-South direction to avoid this scenario, but at McLean Park, the pitch is East-West facing.
Mclean Park was taken off the international cricket circuit in 2016 after a brief downpour before a Chappell-Hadlee match failed to drain away, keeping fans waiting for hours before the game was abandoned.
McLean Park in Napier has undergone a revamp following the abandonment of two ODIs against Pakistan and Australia due to poor drainage. It last hosted a completed ODI in the 2015 World Cup.
Things have changed and a lot of investment has been made to upgrade the venue – particularly its turf, drainage and irrigation systems. It has short square boundaries and the reputation of being a batting-friendly venue.
A brand new hybrid turf has cost the Napier City Council nearly $5 million to try prevent any future drainage problems.
“The setting sun is in the eyes of the players and we need to think of their safety as well as umpires. There was an awareness of it by the players (they didn’t appeal),” said the umpire.
Stoppages due to sun have been witnessed in the past here during the domestic competitions, and reportedly, also in few English grounds, but none of them were international matches.
“We had talked about it in the pre-series chat. It’s something different,” said New Zealand star batsman Ross Taylor.
“We are trying to find out ways to deal with this problem,” said Napier’s mayor Bill Dalton while talking to official broadcaster ‘Star Sports’.
Chasing 158, India were cruising at 44 for one in 10 over when play was stopped. Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan were batting on 2 and 29 respectively. The visitors went on to win the opening ODI by 8 wickets via DLS method.
Here’s how Twitterati reacted:
So sun stopped play in Napier today. Reminds me of cricket in Rawalpindi, where there used to be a 10-15 mins break, even in Tests, due to dazzling sunlight.
Ahmed Shehzad also had issue with sunlight in Napier four years ago. B McCullum offered him sunglasses but he refused.
— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) January 23, 2019
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) January 23, 2019
Rain stopped the play
Dog stopped the play
Dust stopped the play
SUN stopped the play* ??#NZvIND
— Manikanta Aravind? (@MA_Aravind) January 23, 2019
— Jake O’Flaherty (@jakoboflaherty) January 23, 2019
— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) January 23, 2019
— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) January 23, 2019
Sun halts play in Napier! ?
India are 44/1 in 10 overs, and they need 114 more runs to win the first ODI against New Zealand.
— ICC (@ICC) January 23, 2019