Australia captain Aaron Finch and his New Zealand counterpart Kane Williamson with the umpires during one of the many inspections at the McLean Park at Napier    Getty Images
Australia captain Aaron Finch and his New Zealand counterpart Kane Williamson with the umpires during one of the many inspections at the McLean Park at Napier Getty Images

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) is all set to launch an inquiry into the abandonment of the second One-Day International (ODI) of the ongoing Chappell-Hadlee series against Australia in New Zealand. The second game was scheduled at McLean Park on Thursday but got washed out without a ball being bowled. The most astonishing fact was that there was no play possible despite there being rains staying away for 4 hours after scheduled start of play. A series of inspections were made by on-field umpires, Kumar Dharmasena and Chris Brown, as the ground staff worked on the square and the outfield but overcast skies turned all efforts pointless. After several inspections, the outfield was deemed to be dangerous. This is the second successive ODI that has been washed out in Napier with the last game against Pakistan (in 2016) being washed out with no action on the field. New Zealand vs Australia 2nd ODI at Napier abandoned due to poor conditions

Mike Hesson, New Zealand’s coach, later stated that the ground “wasn’t even close” to being fit for play. “We were given a start time which was a bit on the keen side because there was still casual water around the outfield. As we warmed up you’d throw balls and water would spray. As we did so, more water came to the surface so it actually got worse rather than better which was unexpected. The ground was unfit for play. It wasn’t even close, to be fair. One of those aspects is player safety but you also need to be able to play a game of cricket, whether it be diving around or digging your knee into the ground, whether it be slipping over, or the ball landing and plugging”, Hesson was quoted as saying Hesson by ESPNCricinfo .

The washout also casts shadows over the possibility of the ODI between New Zealand and South Africa scheduled for March 1. Napier City Council is expected to initiate an independent review, which council chief executive Wayne Jack confirmed was being treated as priority.

Aaron Finch, Australia’s stand-in captain, labelled the ground condition “extraordinary.” He said it was clearly unfit for play and labelled the umpires’ decision to call a 4.45pm start “ultra-aggressive”.

Meanwhile, Hesson said it was too early to say if he would be comfortable having his team return to the venue for the South Africa ODI next month. “I’ll be interested in the outcome of the review because we can’t have a day like today,” You have got two teams fizzing to play, a great crowd, and you haven’t got a huge amount of rain, but the outfield was not even close to fit for play which is very frustrating for everybody. We were training on Nelson Park 100m away and the ground was bone-dry four hours ago, and the outfield here is not. There’s clearly an issue here, I don’t know what that is, but they need to have that review and we’ll know more”, concluded the coach.