CA to put health first with SCG Test smoke

Scott Bailey
Health will be prioritised in the SCG Test if the ground gets heavy bushfire smoke haze

Cricket Australia have vowed not to put players, officials or fans at risk as they prepare a cautious approach to smoke haze at the Sydney Test.

The third Test between Australia and New Zealand at the SCG starting Friday will be played amid smoke from the nation's unfolding bushfire crisis.

Saturday is forecast to be most challenging with increased smoke haze and high temperatures expected to cause poor air quality.

The match will remain under the control of the ICC, but CA will have heavy involvement and have been communicating with match referee Richie Richardson and the ICC over smoke protocols.

Umpires will make the call on whether the match continues in the event of poor conditions, but CA will provide data on air quality and visibility ratings.

Doctors will be told to provide officials with feedback from players, particularly if they are having difficulty breathing or experience sore eyes.

"We won't be putting the players' health at risk, nor will we be putting the health of match officials, fans at the match or our own employees at risk," CA boss Kevin Roberts said.

"That is something we will be monitoring consistently through the five days' play. It's a day-by-day proposition.

"We've been working closely with the ICC and working with the environment department in NSW as well."

Part of the challenge is the range in guidelines, with the NSW government determining a reading of 200 as hazardous and the ICC having that level at 300.

Australian officials have previously implemented a heat policy in first-class cricket, and will aim to have more framework around air quality implemented for next season.

"It's fair to say it's a collaborative exercise and we will continue to take advice from the experts," Roberts said.

First-class matches have been stopped overseas for smog, but no international game has been held up by bushfire smoke in recent memory.

CA have already implemented a number of processes into Sheffield Shield and Big Bash matches this year, with extra information inserted into pre-game medical briefings.

One Big Bash game in Canberra last month was abandoned due to smoke, while a Second XI game in Sydney was also delayed earlier this summer.

Crucially, CA will take the approach that playing time can be made up later and the health of players must be paramount.

"If we have smoke delays that even go collectively for as long as a day then we can still fit in the amount of overs over the course of the match," Roberts said.

"We need to be treating this like rain delays, but smoke delays. That was a simple piece of wisdom to come out of (preparations).

"It was incumbent of us to understand the risks, what alternatives we have to deal with those risks."

Play can be extended by half an hour on the day of any delay, and by half hour on any subsequent day to make up time.