McLean Park rain 'not enough to cause any issues'

By Jordan Bond

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Left to right: Umpires Chris Brown and Kumar Dharmasena, Black Caps captain Kane Williamson and Australian captain Aaron Finch leave the field during the abandoned McLean Park ODI. Photo/Duncan Brown
Left to right: Umpires Chris Brown and Kumar Dharmasena, Black Caps captain Kane Williamson and Australian captain Aaron Finch leave the field during the abandoned McLean Park ODI. Photo/Duncan Brown

Weather experts say the amount of rain that fell at McLean Park last Thursday should never have been enough to cause a match to be abandoned.

Metservice forecaster Tuporo Marsters said there was 5.8mm of light rain between 8am and 1pm in Napier last Thursday.

Weather Watch head forecaster Philip Duncan said 5.8mm of rain is "basically nothing" and should have been absorbed into the ground very quickly.

"That's a light shower. I concentrate on the grass and ground a lot in my job ... As far as I'm concerned the total rain that fell that day was not enough to cause any issues from any point of view.

"So the only explanation for 5.8mm causing a puddle is [the ground is] either concrete or it's saturated already. That doesn't make any sense at all to me."

The One Day International between the Black Caps and Australia was called off about 6.45pm after being delayed from its scheduled 2pm start time due to a wet outfield.

Mr Duncan said sometimes very dry ground can hold water on the surface, but said that wouldn't have been a factor last Thursday.

"When you're in a drought and you get a downpour of rain, the water can sometimes pool into puddles. But 5.8mm over several hours doesn't do that. That's basically the perfect weather to get when it's dry."

Napier mayor Bill Dalton said at the time the weather was a perfect storm of both consistent rain and no natural drying in the air.

"It started raining at 8.30am in the morning, it continued to rain until about 2pm but the fact is when it stopped raining there was no breeze, there was no drying in the air," he said.

Mr Marsters said the humidity level in Napier started to drop as soon as the rain stopped, and fell to 50 per cent by 6pm which was "pretty dry".

Mr Duncan said the lack of wind was not a reasonable explanation in his view.

"It makes no sense again. Unless they put too much water down before [the match], 5.8mm would normally just fall on the ground, make the grass a little wet, and just go straight into the ground."

Only three matches in the past 10 years have been abandoned at McLean Park.

The last match was in January 2016 against Pakistan. Heavy rain persisted for more than 24 hours before the match, and it was called off without a ball being bowled.

The only other match to be abandoned was in late 2013 against the West Indies.

Rain fell until 3.30pm, and although the covers came off and the sun shone, the match was called off at 7pm after puddles in the outfield didn't dissipate.

Black Caps coach Mike Hesson said after last Thursday's match the outfield "wasn't even close" to being acceptable.

"The ground was unfit for play. It wasn't even close," Mr Hesson said.

"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."

New Zealand Cricket chief operating officer Anthony Crummy said the rain "[wasn't] enough to have the game abandoned".

"We understand that Nelson Park and other grounds [were] dry, so something has gone wrong here and we need to understand what that is," Mr Crummy said.

Australian captain Aaron Finch said: "There was a good handful [of puddles] but they were in really key spots - backward point, cover, square leg - those spots that are hot spots in the field."

"Particularly in around the ring it was quite soggy and slippery, and the water was splashing up quite a bit."

Abandoned matches at McLean Park, 2007-2017
- February 2, 2017 v Australia. Called off at 6.45pm with no play
- January 28, 2016 v Pakistan. Called off at 6.30pm with no play
- December 28, 2013 v West Indies. Called off at 5.20pm with no play

- Hawkes Bay Today

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