December 21, 2019 / 10:59 AM / a month ago

Canberra Big Bash called off due to bushfire smoke

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Smoke from bushfires raging across eastern Australia prompted match officials to abandon Saturday’s Big Bash League cricket match in Canberra over what they called “dangerous and unreasonable playing conditions”.

Chasing 162 for victory against Adelaide Strikers, Sydney Thunder were 40-1 in the fifth over when the contest was halted because of lack of visibility and poor air quality caused by smoke.

“After a delay, officials deemed conditions were unsuitable for play to resume ...” BBL said in a statement.

Sydney captain Callum Ferguson was upset at being stranded four balls away from victory with his side already past the five-over target.

Umpire Paul Wilson said there was no way they could have gone ahead with the contest.

“I understand that the Thunder have four balls to go. We can’t take that into consideration,” Wilson told Fox Cricket after play was halted.

“It’s about air quality. We would not have started (the match) like this.”

Close to 100 fires were burning across Australia’s eastern state of New South Wales on Saturday of which six were characterised as “emergency level”.

Earlier this month, players complained of “toxic” conditions at the Sydney Cricket Ground during a Sheffield Shield match between New South Wales and Queensland which was blanketed in a smoky haze.

Australia’s sports federations were forced to postpone a number of youth matches across New South Wales two weeks ago.

Australia has been fighting wildfires for weeks, with blazes destroying more than 700 homes and nearly 3 million acres (1.2 million hectares) of bushland.

Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne and Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Ros Russell

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