ECB conduct enquiry into International T20 abandonment

Thursday 10th September 2009

The England and Wales Cricket Board have conducted an extensive enquiry into the circumstances surrounding the abandonment of the NatWest International Twenty20 at Old Trafford, Manchester on September 1, 2009.

The enquiry concludes that the on-field umpires abandoned the match primarily because of what they considered to be a ’dangerous’ and ’unstable’ area on the bowlers’ run up at the Brian Statham End of the ground. It was also deemed that there were other areas of the ground that were ’marginal’ in terms of their suitability for international cricket.

It was discovered that the principle cause of the problem was the fact that the drainage installed at Old Trafford last winter did not include parts of what is to become the new square in 2011 as to do so would have resulted in further extensive works having to take place in 2010. At present the square runs East-West and will be turned to North-South after next season.

The report also points out that there had been a unusual volume of rain in the days leading up to the proposed game exposing those parts of the ground without new drainage despite Lancashire’s excellent ground covers. .

The safety of the players was paramount in making the decision to abandon the game without a ball being bowled. Lancashire did start an LV= County Championship match the following day against Sussex after work by the groundstaff to ’stiffen’ the problem area by deep spiking and forcing sawdust into the subsequent holes. Neil Mallender stated that he would not have declared the ground fit for an international fixture and allowed the LV=County Championship match, in which he was standing as umpire, to go ahead only on the understanding that if the captain’s felt that at any time if it was felt to be unsafe play would be suspended.

In the report the following recommendations are made:

1) That as soon as the square at Old Trafford is relocated in Autumn 2010 the drainage is further reviewed to ensure all areas outside the square benefit from the enhanced drainage system.

2) To recommend to ICC that the abandonment of matches whilst remaining in the sole control of the umpires is only made after consultation with the ground authority.

3) The safety of players must remain an overriding criteria if there is a substantive risk of serious injury.

4) To recommend to ICC that conditions must be safe to preserve the integrity of the match and due care for the players but in marginal conditions play should be maximised. In the case of abandoned T20 matches the Home Board should have the right to reschedule the fixture if a venue be available and is feasible within 24 – 48 hours .

5) All Category A and B venues be required to prepare two playing surfaces which shall be a minimum of 5 metres apart for major matches.

6) That in consultation with the Home Board the ICC Match Referee and the captains should have the power to amend the playing regulations to seek to provide play .

David Collier, the ECB chief executive, said: ’We thank Gordon Hollins, the ECB’s head of venue partnerships, for his thorough investigation of the events surrounding this abandonment. We are bitterly disappointed for the 17, 000 spectators who had spent time and money attending the match and aim to do everything in our powers to ensure play whenever possible. The Board have received a series of recommendations which they will now progress – including the suggestion that drainage facilities and permanent floodlights for matches awarded from 2011 become a significant part of the balanced scorecard used when the Major Match Group award such matches.’

The ECB will also recommend a new match protocol for International Twenty20 to the ICC as a matter of urgency.

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