Mark Steketee bats on day three of the Sheffield Shield match between NSW and Queensland at the SCG on December 10. Picture: Craig Golding/AAP
Mark Steketee bats on day three of the Sheffield Shield match between NSW and Queensland at the SCG on December 10. Picture: Craig Golding/AAP

Concerns growing over smoke at Sydney Test

CONCERNS are growing over the Sydney Test as bushfires in NSW continue to blanket the city in smoke haze that result in officials stepping in to stop play.

The International Cricket Council's guidelines state that umpires can stop a game when the Air Quality Index reaches a "hazardous" level of 300.00.

However, the Australian Institute of Sport lists an AQI rating of 150 as hazardous for intense exercise, while the NSW government has 200 regardless of activity.

Cricket Australia looks at all guidelines when considering if venues are safe for play, but the Test will be in the hands of ICC umpires.

Day two of the Sydney Test shapes as the biggest smoke challenge for cricket officials with temperatures expected to soar and hazy conditions forecast yet again.

More attention is likely to be on the air than the ground for Australia's third encounter with New Zealand as the bushfire crisis rolls on.

A Big Bash match was abandoned in Canberra this month and authorities will treat smoke like rain at the SCG by calling players from the field if conditions become unsafe or visibility is poor.

Temperatures are expected to hit 45 degrees in Sydney's west by day two, Saturday, with the city forecast to be slightly cooler closer to Moore Park.

The SCG, like much of Sydney, was shrouded in thick smoke on December 10.
The SCG, like much of Sydney, was shrouded in thick smoke on December 10.

Regardless, that has the Bureau of Meteorology concerned the city's air quality will again become poor into Sunday, with winds also expected from the north.

"With that second very hot spell, we would expect to see a continuation of smoke haze and poor air quality into the weekend, if not further (deterioration)," a BoM spokesman said.

More than three million hectares of land has been burnt in NSW's fires this summer.

Meanwhile there are also questions over how the index is measured. It is judged on a rolling 24-hour measurement, meaning it takes a longer for the AQI to rise even when smoke blows in.

CA and the players' association are in the midst of developing a proper framework for dealing with smoke, with Dr John Orchard involved.

Cricket has already been affected in Sydney in the past month, with some men's and women's grade matches called off.

Paramedics were called at least twice to one game as two non-asthmatic players experienced breathing difficulties.

NSW spinner Stephen O'Keefe labelled conditions in a Sheffield Shield that continued at the SCG, while it was smothered by smoke, as "shocking" and "toxic".

Players have been at lengths this week to insist cricket is far from the most important issue in the fire dramas.

"Let's put this in perspective, we play cricket and there are people out there losing their lives and livelihoods," Australian spinner Nathan Lyon said.

"A bit of smoke doesn't worry us. We play a game. The true heroes of this world are the firefighters fighting fires."

News Corp Australia


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