'Ridiculous': Players slam 'toxic' conditions at iconic SCG

Riley Morgan
Sports Reporter

The Sheffield Shield came under fire on Tuesday after players persevered through a thick blanket of smoke at the SCG.

Fans on social media posted barely visible photos and videos of the players out on the pitch at the iconic venue.

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Bushfire smoke meant that air quality and visibility at the iconic venue proved as big a talking point as the on-field action.

Match officials and medical staff monitored readings throughout the day but there was never any indication of play being stopped because of the haze.

Players at the SCG could hardly be seen in the bushfire smoke. (AAP)

But many on social media called the conditions hazardous and urged Cricket NSW to stop the match.


Queensland skipper Usman Khawaja felt like he was batting in Delhi during a knock of 54, noting it was "hard to breathe" and the haze affected players' vision.

NSW captain Peter Nevill agreed the smoke "significantly altered visibility".

Blues spinner O'Keefe declared he has never played in worst conditions at any cricket ground in the world.

"For someone like me who smokes 40 a day, it's now smoking 80 cigarettes a day," the 35-year-old quipped.

"The one thing they need to look at is the air-quality policy.

"It's not healthy. It's toxic ... that was shocking. I don't have kids, but if I did they'd be locked up inside, and if I was at home I wouldn't be training or playing.

"I'm sure they'll address it."

NSW excelled under the thick blanket of smoke, crushing Queensland by nine wickets to extend their unbeaten start to the Sheffield Shield season in testing conditions.

The Blues rolled the Bulls for 176 on Tuesday morning then made light work of a target of 42, rattling off the required runs early in day four's post-lunch session.

Test discard Usman Khawaja was out edging for 54, falling to Trent Copeland after adding one run to his overnight score, as table-topping NSW made it five wins from six games in 2019-20.

Bowlers battle it out

Bowlers from both sides sweated it out in conditions more commonly associated with Delhi, where smog regularly smothers India's fixtures.

The start of a recent NSW second XI game in Sydney's west was delayed because of poor air quality but the air-quality index was more concerning in that case.

Khawaja, who produced his first half-century of the Shield season, was caught behind during Copeland's third over on Tuesday morning.

Steve O'Keefe, one of a handful of candidates to play this summer's SCG Test if national selectors pick two spinners, dismissed Mitch Swepson and Jimmy Peirson to finish with figures of 3-28 from 17.5 overs.

Queensland legspinner Swepson, also in the mix to be Test tweaker Nathan Lyon's spin sidekick against New Zealand at the SCG, picked up the consolatory wicket of Daniel Hughes on Tuesday.

Swepson recorded figures of 1-80 from 33 overs in NSW's first dig.

Moises Henriques was named man of the match for his game-changing knock of 116.