WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand has moved the fourth one-day international against South Africa away from Napier’s McLean Park after an investigation into an abandoned match against Australia found problems with drainage and irrigation at the venue.
New Zealand’s cricket board was embarrassed two weeks ago when a one-dayer between the hosts and Australia was called off without a single ball bowled after the outfield failed to drain enough despite dry conditions that following morning rain.
An urgent investigation into the ground had found there was “an unacceptable risk of a repeat drainage failure” and the March 1 match had been switched to Hamilton’s Seddon Park, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) said in a statement on Tuesday.
“An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the recently abandoned ODI against Australia at McLean Park has highlighted a need for urgent remedial work on the venue’s turf, drainage, and irrigation system,” NZC said.
NZC said, due to drought conditions, the ground had been given “significant watering” before the match against Australia and the match-day rain had resulted in a “worst-case scenario”.
McLean Park, which was dropped from the test roster five years ago, has long been renowned for its poor drainage.
In 2013, a one-day international against West Indies was called off in bright sunshine due to a water-logged outfield, which triggered a review and repairs to drainage ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
NZC added that the city council would now spend NZ$900,000 ($646,000) on a complete replacement of the playing surface, drainage and irrigation system in the latest upgrade.
“By doing this, we can look forward with confidence to McLean Park hosting next summer’s ODIs between the Black Caps and England, and the Black Caps and Pakistan,” NZC chief operating office Anthony Crummy said.
“This has been a difficult time for those involved with staging cricket at McLean Park and, not least, the cricket-loving public within the Hawke’s Bay.”
The five-match series against South Africa starts at Seddon Park on Sunday, before heading to Christchurch, Wellington, back to Hamilton and finally Auckland.
South Africa will also play a one-off Twenty20 international in Auckland on Friday and a three-match test series after the ODIs.
Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by John O'Brien