Sydney Thunder make formal protest against Gabba blackout


Sydney Thunder have lodged a formal protest against the “no result” handed down for their match with the Brisbane Heat at the Gabba on Thursday night after a major power outage and the lack of any backup electricity source led the umpires and the match referee to call off the fixture with the visitors well in control of proceedings.

Only a week before the staging of a day-night Test between Australia and Sri Lanka at the Gabba, the power issue is acutely embarrassing to the Brisbane venue. It had already been stripped of its traditional opening Test of the home season after falling behind Adelaide and Perth among stadiums outside the major Melbourne and Sydney markets.

The Heat had slipped to 2 for 10 in pursuit of the Thunder’s strong tally of 186 when the power outage severely reduced the lighting at the venue, though not eliminating it entirely. The umpires conferred with both teams before deciding that the game would be called off, despite the Thunder’s offer to bowl out their remaining overs with spinners only.

Shane Bond, the Thunder’s coach, immediately registered his displeasure with the game being declared a no result despite the host venue not being fit for play. This was followed up with further strong words by the Thunder’s general manager – and Cricket New South Wales chief executive-elect – Lee Germon on Friday. ESPNcricinfo has learned that Germon’s words have been accompanied by a formal appeal against the result in writing to Cricket Australia.

“My view is that we should get the points, that’s my view,” Germon told the Sydney Morning Herald. “That’s based on the fact the venue has a responsibility to present the stadium for play. This is different from pouring down with rain for three hours or 15 minutes. This is about a fit-for-purpose stadium needing to be provided, and it wasn’t, obviously, because the lights went out.

“There should be a back-up system that enables play to carry on. In my view, this is similar to a situation where matches have been abandoned due to the pitch not playing a way umpires think it should be played, and in those previous situations points have been given to the away team.”

ALSO READ: Callum Ferguson hopes Thunder take full points after power outage

Germon said that events at the conclusion of the game appeared to run contrary to CA’s own stated desire to “put fans first”.

“The thing for me that I’m struggling with is that we had 26,000 people in the stadium,” he said. “Big Bash goes to great extremes to always provide entertainment, and we saw that when we played through three overs of pouring rain at Spotless Stadium a couple of weeks ago against the same opposition.

“It was deemed safe then, so I can’t understand why it would not be deemed safe here when the lights were partially on. I have already made a phone call to Cricket Australia and I will be escalating that to Cricket Australia in terms of determining why this happened and what should be the outcome. It’s unacceptable this has happened.”

Bond had earlier been similarly strong in his critique, not only of the final decision but the method by which it was reached. “They [the umpires] didn’t make a decision, they fobbed it off to Brisbane and of course they were never going to play because they were in the crap,” Bond said after play. “It is disappointing. We played our best cricket, so it’s more disappointing for the competition.

“People pay their hard-earned money to see cricket, and when there was the ability to see a game of cricket to the end, but to have it denied on what I thought was an inconsistent ruling around conditions, it’s not a great look for the competition.

“The lights went out, we went over and said to the umpires, ‘We’re happy to play the game and bowl entirely spinners’. We said, ‘If we agree to play, we’ll bowl all our spinners and will go to the end with that’. We said to them, ‘We think it’s not dark enough for it to be deemed unsafe if spinners bowl’. They made a call, it was deemed they would agree to play if Brisbane agreed to play. When they didn’t agree, the match referee said it was unsafe.”

“I have already made a phone call to Cricket Australia and I will be escalating that to Cricket Australia in terms of determining why this happened and what should be the outcome. It’s unacceptable this has happened.'”

Lee Germon

There is simmering discontent at the Thunder and Cricket NSW more generally over CA’s handling of numerous match abandonments in recent years. Chief among them were a pair of NSW versus Victoria encounters.

In 2015 the SCG in-field was deemed “unfit for play” during a Sheffield Shield match between NSW and Victoria, with the visitors being awarded outright points as a result. Then in 2017 the North Sydney Oval pitch was deemed “dangerous” and the game was abandoned when Victoria were chasing a NSW target, with points again going to the visitors under DLS calculations. CA had been expecting a formal followup from the Thunder, but the events chief Anthony Everard had already moved to say events were beyond the control of both the Heat and the governing body.

“Last night’s match was unable to be completed due to an external power issue that was outside the control of the Brisbane Heat, Queensland Cricket and Cricket Australia,” Everard said in a statement. “The match officials assessed the situation including whether there was enough light for play to continue safely.

“A decision was reached that there was insufficient light for this to occur and subsequently play was abandoned and the points were split between Brisbane Heat and Sydney Thunder. We are now working with Stadiums Queensland to investigate why this occurred, and to ensure there will be no further issues at future matches.”

Everard also announced that fans holding a ticket for the abandoned match would be given free entry to a day of the day/night Test, starting Thursday.

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