Mangaung Oval groundsman Nico Pretorius inspects the pitch on Sunday. Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp/BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG - Cricket South Africa’s ‘event technical committee’ met to decide how to determine which one of the Knights and Warriors would qualify for the Momentum One-Day Cup final after Sunday’s play-off match between the two teams was abandoned because the pitch at the Mangaung Oval was deemed unfit for play.

The match, to decide who would meet the Titans at SuperSport Park on Friday, had to be abandoned after umpires, Adrian Holdstock and Allahudien Palekar deemed the surface too dangerous for batting. Batsmen facing at the Loch Lomand End, had balls shoot through low and jump disconcertingly off the surface. The umpires had inspected the pitch after 15 overs, but allowed the match to continue for another 13 overs before consulting the captains and ending proceedings.

The on-field officials, who had earlier expressed their concerns about the pitch to match referee Barry Lambson, called an end to proceedings after 28 overs with the Warriors, who’d chosen to bat first, on 88/3.

“There’s two areas of concern with (what look) like ridges... if the ball hits the slope it goes up and if it hits the other side it goes down,” Holdstock told Supersport.

“We tried to manage it, to see if the wicket would settle during the course of the afternoon. Allahudien and I decided with regards the safety of the players that somewhere during the course of the match someone could get seriously hurt.”

The first two wickets the Warriors lost were a direct result of pitch; their skipper Jon-Jon Smuts got one from Dillon du Preez that shot through low and deflected off the bottom of the bat onto leg stump, while Colin Ingram got out to a ball that bounced up off a full length, and clipped his glove. Earlier Ingram had been smacked on the hand as well by one that reared up off a full length causing him to drop his bat.

There is no provision in the tournament’s rules for what to do in the event of a match being abandoned twice because of an unfit pitch. If both days which are set aside for the play-off game – and Friday’s final – are rained out, the team that finished highest on the log would be declared the winner.

The event committee met Sunday and were expected to inform the teams of their decision regarding what would happen if Monday’s match was abandoned again because of poor pitch, on Sunday evening.

Groundsman Nico Pretorious said he’s started preparing the pitch last Tuesday in case the venue had to host the play-off game.

“Because the weather was cooler, (the pitch) kept too much moisture,” said Pretorious. “All the preparation was the same, it’s just we pushed a bit of extra clay which made it uneven on the one side.”

Unlike Sunday, Monday’s match will be a day/night affair starting at 2pm.

Independent Media