The thought of a player being rushed with heat stroke or worse to an overstretched hospital system left Maitland cricket boss Brian Hammonds with not other choice but to cancel the weekend’s cricket fixtures.
Maitland and District Cricket Assocaition president Hammonds said it was a tough call but one he and the administrators of cricket in Cessnock, Singleton and Hunter’s governing body needed to make.
In an unprecedented move all junior and senior fixtures in the Maitland, Cessnock and Singleton competitions and Hunter Valley representatives games were called off on Friday.
“It was the toughest decision I’ve had to make as president, but in the end the thought of a player being rushed with heat stroke or worse to an overstretched hospital system played on my mind,” Hammonds said.
“It was a decision which needed to be made at an association level to take the pressure off individual captains and coaches and remove any peer pressure that may have been there to proceed.
“All the associations kept in touch with clubs and each other and I have no doubt we made the right call.
“There were some critics, but most people were supportive in online discussions.
“I think a few people are disappointed, but in the end I hope they remember cricket’s a team sport and we need to look out for all our teammates and umpires.”
Hammonds said an incident involving a work colleague had highlighted the cumulative effect of multiple hot days.
“We had to take one of the guys at work to hospital with heat exhaustion. It wasn’t the hottest day, but the build up of dealing with extended hot days in a row caught up with him,” he said. “When we saw three days of real hot temperatures together it sent off alarm bells about player and umpire welfare.
As a result of the weekend’s cancellation, representative fixtures including the John Bull Shield final between Maitland and Cessnock and the AFL Second Elevens decider between Maitland and Singleton have been rescheduled until February 19.
Maitland first and second grade games which had been scheduled as two-day games will now revert to one-day fixtures next Saturday. In other grades each team will be awarded two points for a draw.
Maitland and District Junior Cricket Association president Glen Findley said it became apparent people’s opinions around what is an acceptable heat in which to play cricket differed significantly, but he felt there was an unacceptable risk of thermal injury.
“This is the reason that I believe decisions on player welfare in extreme conditions are the responsibility of the respective associations. It is simply not fair to leave clubs, coaches, captains or individual players/parents to have to justify a decision not to play,” he said.