OPINION

The farce of the abandoned McLean Park one-day cricket international between Australia and New Zealand produced no winners.

The fans, the players and coaches, the ground staff, the administrators and, perhaps longer term, the ratepayers and businesses of Hawke's Bay, lost out because of a repeat problem.

Even the farmers, who were presumably dancing in their parched paddocks after welcome precipitation in the morning, must have been craving cricket in the dry afternoon.

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The core of the issue was that the ground drainage was not up to a suitable standard for international sport. The squelching of water under foot, hours after the significant rain had stopped at 1.45pm, was unacceptable. The Napier City Council-owned ground will need ratepayers to fork out if they want further fixtures.

The irony is the pitch, as noted by Australian captain Aaron Finch and New Zealand coach Mike Hesson in the post-match press conferences, looked in impeccable condition for limited overs cricket.

A number of subsequent problems flowed, so to speak, off the issue.

Bryan Waddle and Jeremy Coney inspect McLean Park and try to work out why today's ODI was abandoned

Posted by Radio Sport NZ on Thursday, 2 February 2017

1. The so-called super-sopper didn't live up to its billing, and looked like it was massaging water into the turf. As someone noted on Twitter, if Wellington's has The Cake Tin, Napier has The Sponge.

2. The communication with fans was slack. At a crucial point, from 5.30pm to 6.20pm, after they had waited patiently for almost four hours post rain, there was no update. Song requests were played over the public address system instead. Ideally, the umpires should have been miked up to pass on what they observed in the middle. That way, the paying public could get a better understanding about the delay. The disconnect with fans led to disgruntlement because of the covert decision-making. No beer, hot dog, or pottle of chips could appease that.

3. It's easy popping on the Hindsight Hat at a rakish angle, but exactly the same issue occurred last year between New Zealand and Pakistan. The council needs to look at better preventative maintenance if they want New Zealand Cricket to return to the venue, especially with an ODI looming against South Africa on March 1.


Listen:New Zealand Cricket chief operations officer Anthony Crummy on the Radio Sport Breakfast


4. The hesitancy to make a call saw conspiracy theorists suggest that although NZC stands to get insurance from the lost day, and patrons get a refund, plenty of money still went through tills in the time between the last rain (1.45pm) and the various inspections until the match was called off (6.46pm).

5. It's not fair to blame the debacle on the players or the umpires. They were working within a flawed process. It's not rugby or war, although somehow statements such as "Remember that time Pinetree Meads turned up at Athletic Park and said 'stuff this for a joke, it's too wet and windy I'm going home'. I didn't think so" and "These softies aren't being asked to dig a trench to escape the Germans" featured in the Herald's blog.