An Australian Big Bash League cricket game was abandoned after a thick layer of smoke blanketed Canberra on Saturday evening.

Bushfire smoke filled the stadium during the fifth over of the Sydney Thunder's run chase against the Adelaide Strikers, forcing players from the field due to poor air quality and impaired vision.

Spectators were scrambling for face masks as conditions Manuka Oval worsened – at one stage the air quality on Canberra was reported to be seven times worse than Delhi.

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Fox Cricket commentator Mark Howard described the chaotic situation.

"You can smell the smoke in the commentary box," said Howard.

"Frightening what people are going through in this part of the world."

Umpire Paul Wilson spoke to Fox Cricket after the players were escorted from the field.

"It's about air quality. We would not have started like this."

Thunder coach Shane Bond told The Daily Telegraph the umpires made the right decision to call off the game.

"The air quality was poor, clearly, and there were people who went down in the stands, so we were prepared," Bond said.

"We'd worked bloody hard, we were probably going to get a win so there's the emotion of it.


"You have to stop to take a breath and say 'look, losing a point is not the same as losing your house', so there's some perspective there and there's people doing it really tough."

Manuka Oval is shrouded in bushfire smoke. Photo / Getty
Manuka Oval is shrouded in bushfire smoke. Photo / Getty

Adelaide coach Jason Gillespie agreed with Bond's assessment of the unusual circumstances.

"At the end of the day it's the players' safety we have to take into account. It's pretty unprecedented, and it's not just the players and the umpires and the like but we've got a lot of spectators in here as well.

"It' is a bit unprecedented but these are the playing conditions that are in place and the umpires are just applying that.

"Being able to see the ball is pretty fundamental in our sport but also I think the respiratory situation is something that needs to be considered."

This isn't the first domestic Australian cricket match to be affected by the bushfires currently ravaging the country's hinterland.


Two weeks ago a Sheffield Shield clash between NSW and Queensland at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground was completed in testing conditions that saw cricket blogger Rick Eyre liken the scenes to "the apocalypse", while Cricinfo writer Dan Brettig urged authorities to call the game off.