–Leaky covers delay play in third Test

December 18, 2017

England coach Trevor Bayliss is questioning whether the WACA Ground is fit for cricket after leaky covers created several wet spots on the pitch.

Monday’s final day of play in third Ashes Test will begin at 1240 AWST (1540 AEDT) – two hours and 40 minutes after the scheduled start.

As ground staff were accused of a “cock-up”, Bayliss – speaking before umpires cleared play to resume – said the leaking covers had made the pitch dangerous.

England are facing a scrap for survival at 4-132 in their second innings, 127 runs behind Australia, who will capture the Ashes with a win.

Bayliss says England want the pitch in a similar condition to Sunday before playing.

“If the wicket isn’t in the same place as it was yesterday, it makes batting more difficult and maybe a bit more dangerous,” Bayliss told ABC radio.

“A few of those (wet) spots are right on a length.

“We will go with whatever the umpires say.

“That doesn’t stop any team in our position arguing the point.”

Australian coach Darren Lehmann said the situation was “not ideal”.

“You don’t want these things to happen in Test match venues,” he told ABC radio.

Umpire Marais Erasmus said there “was a bit of leakage overnight” in the covers.

Ground staff used blower vacuums in a bid to dry several damp patches on the pitch.

Hampering the ground staff’s efforts to dry the pitch, showers have fallen frequently at the ground with the covers taken off, then replaced, six times in just over an hour.

A ground staffer was also blown over by strong winds which are further troubling the dozen or so groundsmen who have earnt the wrath of several commentators.

“They cocked up,” English great Geoff Boycott said on the BBC.

“It’s their job to make sure it’s secure, it’s as simple as that. They have made a big, big error.”

Former English spinner Graeme Swann said the England camp was arguing the pitch was not fit for cricket.

“They’re not happy at all,” Swann told BT Sport.

“There are wet, soft spots. The problem is some bits of the wicket are still fairly hard and some are soft, so it’s the inconsistency that they’re trying to dry out now.”

Swann said using blower vacuums in a bid to dry the pitch was “like trying to defrost a turkey under the hot tap – I don’t see it’s going to work at all”.

Australia lead the five-match series 2-0 and can claim the Ashes with a win on Monday. – #1 News in a FLASH

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