Day three of the Sheffield Shield cricket match between NSW and Queensland at the SCG on December 10 was played in atrocious conditions. Picture: Craig Golding/AAP
Day three of the Sheffield Shield cricket match between NSW and Queensland at the SCG on December 10 was played in atrocious conditions. Picture: Craig Golding/AAP

Prospect of SCG smoke break looms large

WHO cares?

New Zealand off spinner Will Somerville summed up the mentality of both squads as they prepared for the possibility of the third trans-Tasman cricket Test being interrupted because of bushfire smoke.

Air quality has been a regular concern for Sydney residents in recent weeks and that is likely to be the case during the Test, which starts on Friday, with smoke expected to be at its worst on Saturday.

It's entirely possible that play could be stopped, as was the case during a recent abandoned Big Bash League match in Canberra, as match referee Richie Richardson and umpires closely monitor air quality and visibility.

Both camps are content to back the judgment of officials at the SCG, where a recent Sheffield Shield match was completed in conditions that Steve O'Keefe dubbed "toxic".

As the death toll from bushfires dotted around Australia climbed on New Year's Day - and apocalyptic videos of destruction continued to do the rounds on social media - the bigger picture wasn't lost on either side.

"It's bloody horrible, shocking, and it's been going on for so long," former NSW spinner Somerville said, having spent most of his life in Sydney.

"I don't know what more to say.

"There's talk about smoke delaying this game but who cares, it doesn't mean anything compared with what people are going through."

Australia coach Justin Langer expressed similar sentiments, noting "a lot of people are suffering" and that he would leave it up to others to monitor air quality and whether it was fit to play.

The SCG, like much of Sydney, was shrouded in thick smoke on December 10.
The SCG, like much of Sydney, was shrouded in thick smoke on December 10.

"The reality is this is a game of cricket," Langer said.

"Our hearts go out (to everyone affected).

"It will be the first time I'll ever say this in my life, I hope it rains a bit during the Test because Sydney needs it."

Langer gave his cap to Bill, an elderly fan from Lithgow, at the SCG on Wednesday morning.

"He's going through a bit of a tough time. He told me his son-in-law's house nearly got burned down the last couple of days," Langer said.

Cricket Australia is in the midst of developing smoke protocols for future summers, in conjunction with the players' association.

Richardson will be in charge of proceedings in the third Test, with the International Cricket Council's guidelines dictating that conditions are not hazardous until an air quality index (AQI) of 300 is reached.

However, play could also be stopped because of visibility concerns.

"We'll go on as business as usual," Langer said.

News Corp Australia

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