Sydney’s extreme wet weather has caused havoc, but somehow the BBL Final at the SCG went ahead on Saturday, while the A-League Sydney Derby at Jubilee Stadium was postponed.
The reason the cricket was able to proceed while the football was cancelled is due to the difference in quality of the draining systems at the two stadiums.
The BBL Final was officially a sell-out, with the 48,000-capacity Sydney Cricket Ground expected to be near-full for the double-header, featuring the T20 Big Bash League Final between the Sixers and Stars, preceded by the Bushfire Cricket Bash charity game.
With the forecast looking bleak, Cricket Australia relocated the charity game to Melbourne’s Junction Oval the following day to ensure it would go ahead and protect the SCG surface to give the BBL Final every chance of going ahead.
Sydney was dumped with more than 200mm of rain in the few days leading up to the showpiece event and most thought there was little to no chance of the game starting, let alone getting a result.
But Adam Lewis, SCG’s head curator, was optimistic and knew if the rain eased for an hour or two at the right time, they’d get a game in. He was correct, as the Sixers went on to win their second title, in a rain-shortened encounter on an impressive playing surface that was well managed by Lewis and his team of 11 groundstaff.
“We knew the weather was coming so we pre-planned and got the wicket ready a lot earlier than normal knowing we wouldn’t be able to get onto it once the rain started coming in,” Lewis told cricket.com.au.
An already-used cricket pitch was prepared for the match and rolled earlier than usual – three days before the game, before the covers were put in place to protect it. They performed maintenance during any breaks in the rain and also punched holes into the outfield to allow water to flow through quicker to the world-class drainage system.
The inclement weather had an impact on the crowd though, with just 10,121 fans attending the season finale at the SCG on Saturday evening. While some may have taken advantage of the refunds on offer following the relocation of the charity game (applicable until midday Friday), around 35,000 ticketholders and SCG members didn’t show, expecting there would be no result.
While there was plenty of action at the SCG, it wasn’t the case across town at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, with the A-League Sydney Derby between Sydney FC and the Wanderers postponed.
The decision was made by FFA earlier in the day – around 11am following a pitch inspection – to ensure those planning to travel to the game had plenty of time to change their plans. A postponed A-League fixture can be rescheduled to a later date, while the BBL Final had no reserve day, so it was Saturday night or nothing.
The showpiece A-League fixture was on track for a sell-out of close to 20,000 fans at the temporary home of Sydney FC while the Sydney Football Stadium is rebuilt.
However, following the torrential rain in the lead-up to Saturday, the stadium’s relatively new drainage system was at capacity and any further rain, of which plenty was expected throughout Saturday, would fail to drain and instead pool on the playing surface, rendering it unplayable.
"The pitch surface at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium is currently in good condition and draining as expected, not unlike other professional football pitches, however it is at water holding capacity," a Georges River Council spokeswoman said. "The volume of rainfall between now and the scheduled A-League game tomorrow will determine whether the pitch will be playable for the derby."
An announcement is expected to be made this week as to when the Sydney Derby will be rescheduled to. With Sydney FC’s AFC Champions League commitments and the upcoming finals series, the new date likely won’t be ideal.