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Freak weather occurrence could happen again, but larger covers are ruled out

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SCG crowd builds 175-metre beer snake

When the one-day match against Sri Lanka on Sunday was delayed due to rain, fans at the Sydney Cricket Ground used the time to break a world record.

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SCG Trust chairman Rodney Cavalier cannot guarantee there will not be a repeat of the bizarre circumstances that led to Sunday night's controversial finish to the one-dayer against Sri Lanka.

A defiant Cavalier maintained SCG ground staff did all they could to ensure play was possible after the rain delay, describing the persistent drizzle as a ''freak occurrence'', and defended the venue's drainage system. Fairfax Media has been told the SCG surface can cope with up to 400 millimetres of rain an hour, but it was no match for the drizzle and still conditions that prevented ground staff from making the venue fit for play after the rain delay.

''It was a freakish event,'' Cavalier said. ''In my time on the trust and 50 years of watching cricket at the SCG I've never known that to happen before. There's no mortal force that can control the weather - the weather is what it is.

One way to stay amused ... fans who attended Sunday's one-day international between Australia and Sri Lanka soaked up the rain delay by making a giant snake from empty beer cups. The match was later called off due to wet weather.

One way to stay amused ... fans who attended Sunday's one-day international between Australia and Sri Lanka soaked up the rain delay by making a giant snake from empty beer cups. The match was later called off due to wet weather. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Cavalier scoffed at suggestions the venue should introduce covers for the entire playing surface. The practice is done at some Sri Lankan venues, which do not have the same quality of drainage system as the SCG. More than $3.4 million has been spent since 2000 on the SCG surface, reducing the need for full ground covers, which are considered expensive.

''I've not heard anyone seriously put forward full ground covers before today and it's a matter that the cricket authorities will have to talk about,'' he said. ''It's not a matter of cost, it's not a matter that's going to be costed because it's not going to happen.''

SCG curator Tom Parker said: ''I can assure you there is nothing wrong with the SCG drainage.'' Debate continued to rage on Monday as to whether officials should have allowed play to continue in the fourth one-dayer.

Viewers on Channel Nine disagreed overwhelmingly with the umpires, a trend that was also evident in a smh.com.au poll in which 84 per cent of more than 2300 respondents believed the game should not have been called off due to wet weather.

Opener David Warner defended the decision to abandon the match, saying the outfield was too wet for play to resume. ''When we were throwing the ball on the ground you could see the water spinning up behind the ball, which indicates the ground was still pretty wet,'' Warner said. ''If the ball gets too wet you can't hold it and there's an unfair advantage.''

Warner said player safety had to come first. ''If their footing comes undone because of wetness on their shoe they could be slipping over on the wicket,'' Warner said on Sky Sports Radio. ''We don't want any injuries happening.''

Cricket Australia responded to the negative publicity by announcing a special offer for fans at Sunday's game: a two-for-one deal if they buy a ticket for Saturday's Australia Day Twenty20 against Sri Lanka at ANZ Stadium.

''Obviously we're disappointed we couldn't play out the game and have a result for the fans,'' said CA's executive general manager of operations, Mike McKenna. ''We're very conscious of the fact there were 22,000 fans in the ground who paid good money to see a game, and there were probably a million people watching on Channel Nine's broadcast."

''These things happen in cricket, but because of the circumstances we are able to make that offer and we hope that goes some way to showing fans that we really care about their support of the match last night. The key thing is that matches need to be played if they can be played, and while the circumstances of last night are not entirely clear to us just yet, we'd like to think we'll play cricket when we can.''

■ Australian opener David Warner has received an official reprimand after pleading guilty to showing dissent towards umpire Marais Erasmus during the fourth one-day match against Sri Lanka on Sunday.

Warner, who is free to play in the final ODI in Hobart on Wednesday, was furious after Erasmus gave him out lbw and headed for the SCG changing rooms shaking his head and swearing to himself as replays clearly showed the left-hander had inside-edged the ball.

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