Sydney or Delhi? Smoke blankets the Sydney Cricket Ground. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Sydney or Delhi? Smoke blankets the Sydney Cricket Ground. Picture. Phil Hillyard

‘Worse than Delhi’: SCG chokes on ‘toxic’ smoke

FROM Delhi to Dhaka, Moises Henriques knows all about playing at smog filled cricket venues, but says the SCG was at another level on Tuesday.

While NSW teammate Stephen O'Keefe likened the "toxic" conditions to smoking "80 cigarettes a day", Henriques said he didn't have the expertise to judge whether or not the air quality was unhealthy to play in.

However, the star all-rounder admitted that the smoke from surrounding NSW bushfires was so thick that if it was a smidgeon worse, seeing the ball would have been almost impossible.

Henriques has played for more than 10 years in countries such as India and Bangladesh but said nothing compared to the stunning scenes that engulfed the SCG - making his eyes watery and leaving Sydney blanketed in thick smoke.

"I've played in Delhi and a lot of those (sub-continental) countries, and sure, especially in Delhi, there can be some fairly bad air pollution. But that today, is the worst in terms of haze and smog that I've ever played under for sure - by country miles," Henriques told The Daily Telegraph.

"Even for training sessions, I've never quite witnessed anything like what it was this morning.

"It's a game of cricket. It's not that important in terms of the long-term effects.

"You kind of feel if it was delayed, we'd have 22 blokes (from NSW and Queensland) who would definitely volunteer to go out and actually do what we could to help the people who actually need some urgent help, rather than us.

Players clear their eyes as smoke from the NSW bushfires envelops the ground. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Players clear their eyes as smoke from the NSW bushfires envelops the ground. Picture. Phil Hillyard

"A game of cricket isn't the most important thing at the moment around Sydney."

Henriques said visibility was the biggest issue for players, rather than any health hazard with the air.

Stephen O'Keefe reacts as smoke blankets the SCG. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Stephen O'Keefe reacts as smoke blankets the SCG. Picture. Phil Hillyard

"I'm not an expert on air quality, but I know the eyes certainly got watery after about an hour of being out there," he said.

"I'd imagine if it got any worse than it was, it actually would have been very difficult to see the ball. I would have assumed if it got any worse that we may have come off through visibility issues rather than air quality issues. Because it was just so dense.

"If you're trying to watch a ball being bowled at 130 or 140km/h in the haze in that sort of thick smoke, it doesn't make it easy especially when the eyes are already watering.

 

The SCG takes on an eerie feel as smoke takes over. Picture. Phil Hillyard
The SCG takes on an eerie feel as smoke takes over. Picture. Phil Hillyard

"It's hard to comment because you don't know the long-term damages or effects of poor air quality, but definitely in terms of visibility I can't imagine a game going on if it got much worse than that."

O'Keefe praised NSW's opponents, Queensland, for not lobbying umpires to call the game off - particularly given the only result possible was a Blues victory, which was eventually confirmed with a nine-wicket triumph.

The spinner said officials needed to review the policy on air quality.

"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 in it," he said.

The show must go on: Sean Abbott in action. Picture. Phil Hillyard
The show must go on: Sean Abbott in action. Picture. Phil Hillyard

"I tip my hat to Queensland because when you're behind in the game you've got a reason to whinge, but they got on with it.

"The one thing they need to look at is the air quality policy ... for someone like me (a former smoker), it's like smoking 80 cigarettes a day."

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News Corp Australia


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