The empty SCG stands caused some confusion for David Warner on Friday when he didn’t even realise he’d passed 50 because nobody was applauding.
Australia’s one-day international against New Zealand was played behind closed doors after Cricket Australia barred spectators from entering the SCG over coronavirus fears.
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With the pandemic leaving fans locked out just hours before the first ball was bowled, Aaron Finch (60) and Warner (67) led Australia to 7-258 before Pat Cummins, Mitch Marsh and Adam Zampa bowled them to victory.
Warner was in fine form early on Friday but suffered an awkward moment when he didn’t realise he’d notched his half-century.
The opener powered nine boundaries in his 67 from 88 balls, but with no crowd present to applaud the feat it took a while for him to realise he had brought up his 50 when he pulled Ish Sodhi to square leg.
It was only when teammates Alex Carey and Mitch Marsh started applauding from the dressing room that Warner twigged.
“I’m not sure he knows because no one is applauding,” Kiwi great Ian Smith said in commentary.
“Honestly, he hasn’t raised his bat.”
Finch was also slow to congratulate his batting partner, seemingly unaware as well.
Bizarre scenes as ODI goes ahead without fans
Warner and Finch batted Australia into a position of dominance with a 124-run opening stand before the middle order again wobbled.
Finch, who would have been out twice had decisions not gone in his favour, was particularly aggressive, whacking two sixes in his 60 from 75 balls.
One of those hoisted shots went deep into the vacant Bill O'Reilly Stand, leaving Lockie Ferguson to climb the fence to retrieve the ball.
The things you have to worry about as an international cricketer these days - fetch the ball if it’s been hit for a six into the stands off your teammate. These are truly crazy times. #AUSvNZ #SCG pic.twitter.com/Yyj2eXOcHO— Ajesh Ramachandran (@Edged_and_taken) March 13, 2020
“It was unique, something I haven't experienced before,” Finch said about playing without fans.
“But I think all in all it was a pretty good result considering what has gone on around the world and sporting events being cancelled.”
After Cricket Australia acted early and barred fans from the ODI series, Friday's match looms as the new norm.
Both captains still exchanged hand shakes at the toss (albeit by accident), but interviews were done via the spidercam to ensure a two-metre buffer zone.
Players then ditched handshakes after the match, instead clapping each other and giving thumbs up as they walked off the field.
Players were also seen fist-bumping or elbow-bumping instead of high-fiving after taking wickets.
Crowds will be banned from the next two games in the series in Sydney and Hobart, and doubt also remains over a tour of New Zealand later this month given the government's non-essential travel warning.
Australia's women's tour of South Africa for next week has also been suspended, making it the first major cricket series affected.
“We have taken strong action today in the face of an unprecedented public health issue,” CA boss Kevin Roberts said.
“We believe this is the right decision to minimise the risk of public exposure to the coronavirus.
“We understand that these changes to our schedule will impact many, but we hope our community will understand that the public health and safety issues ... must take priority.”