Protest launched after Sydney grade cricket game called off early for movie screening

Northern District believe they were dudded out of crucial points when they were ordered off North Sydney Oval seven overs early.

Leading NSW Premier Cricket club Northern District is hoping to land a golden ticket into the competition's top two after its last round match was stopped due to Willy Wonka and his Oompa-Loompas. Needing two wickets to beat North Sydney outright and secure second spot at the end of the regular season last Saturday, ND players were stunned when ordered from North Sydney Oval by local council officials late in the day.

They were told to vacate the ground because patrons attending that evening's Sunset Cinema screening of Wonka on North Sydney Oval were starting to line-up with their seats and picnic blankets. The game was called off around 6pm with seven overs left in the day's play.

North Sydney Oval, pictured here during a cricket match.
The cricket match at North Sydney Oval was stopped early because of the movie screening. Image: Getty/Sunset Cinema

The visitors were awarded six first innings points – not enough to claim second spot on the ladder. Wonka, based on the Roald Dahl classic and starring Timothee Chalamet, was due to start at around 8pm.

Northern District has fired in an official protest over the result to the Sydney Cricket Association, which governs the Sydney grade competition. A hearing has been set down for Tuesday night.

It's understood the Rangers will argue the match was uncompleted due to circumstances beyond their control, robbing them of the opportunity to claim outright victory and second position on the table. Manly-Warringah, which won its match outright, jumped from third to second in leapfrogging NDs.

The Rangers, who boast Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon and NSW and Sydney Thunder all-rounder Chris Green in their ranks, will further argue this jeopardises their chances of progressing deep into the finals. The competition's top six finals system rewards the higher-ranked team in the event of washouts and/or draws.

The NSW Premier Cricket ladder, with Northern Districts in third spot.
The NSW Premier Cricket ladder. Image: Supplied

Northern District officials tight-lipped ahead of hearing

The club was tight-lipped when approached for comment, with one official telling Yahoo Sport Australia: "It's a match under protest but, yes, the game didn’t reach a natural conclusion due to sunset cinema at North Sydney Oval."

The Sydney Cricket Association and North Sydney were also unwilling to discuss the matter ahead of the protest hearing. With the finals commencing on Saturday, the SCA is keen to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

It’s likely Northern District's protest will be dismissed to prevent a precedent being set. Rival clubs have pointed out games are occasionally called off due to unforeseen circumstances outside the control of match officials.

North Sydney Oval, pictured here during a cricket game.
A general view of North Sydney Oval. (Cricket Australia via Getty Imag)

North Sydney Council responds to controversy

A spokesperson for North Sydney Council told Yahoo Sport Australia that an agreement was in place to finish play by 5.30pm. "An agreement between North Sydney Cricket Club, Sunset Cinema, and the North Sydney Council requires all cricket matches to conclude at 5.30pm to enable Sunset Cinema to set up. On this occasion, Council worked with the operators of Sunset Cinema to delay their setup, giving every opportunity for the cricket match to reach a resolution. The requirement of setting up a movie screen for the final Sunset Cinema screening of the season forced a premature end of the game.

Sydney Grade Cricket was informed of the potential clash of events prior to the second day of the match. Council also provided an option for an earlier start time than scheduled. Unfortunately this option was unable to be taken up. Council continues to manage the limited open space within the area for the benefit of all stakeholders, and is appreciative of the Sunset Cinema and Cricket Clubs who worked in a collaborative and respectful manner on the day."

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.

Yahoo Australia