Smoke delays likely during 3rd Test in Sydney

Australia likely to play the same squad in Sydney; Both teams to pay tribute to firefighters

Australia and New Zealand cricketers will pay tribute to firefighters and bushfire victims during the third Test in Sydney, officials said Thursday.

According to AFP, smoke delays are likely to affect the match, starting Friday.

In one of Australia’s most devastating bushfire seasons which has seen blazes raging across the country, at least 18 people are reportedly dead.

“Like rain, the rules are in place to add time, to suspend play (for Tests). But what we’re finding is it (smoke) comes in quick but also goes quick,” Cricket Australia’s head of operations Peter Roach told cricket.com.au.

“It’s unlikely, we believe, it’ll be there for a full day.

“We might see some challenges across that day, but we’ll play it like rain or adverse weather. Time can be added on.”

“On behalf of Australian cricket, we wish everyone fighting the fires across Australia a safe New Year,” Australia coach Justin Langer and captain Tim Paine said in a joint letter published in local media Thursday.

“We pray the conditions improve, the fires ease and the rains come. And, above all else, we hope all Australians pull together and help each other through this incredibly difficult time.”

Before play on Friday both sides will take part in a minute’s applause for fire and emergency services workers and wear black armbands as a mark of respect for those who have died.

Cricket Australia also announced a fundraising drive for the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund during one-day matches between Australia and New Zealand in Sydney in March.

As far as the cricket is concerned, Australia are unlikely to play a second spinner in the third Test against New Zealand and will probably field the same team that beat the tourists in Melbourne last week to seal the series, captain Tim Paine said on Thursday.

The Sydney Cricket Ground is the only spin-friendly Test venue in Australia and uncapped wrist spinner Mitchell Swepson was added to the squad to offer the option of a second slow bowler along with Nathan Lyon.

“We’ll have a look in the morning,” captain Tim Paine told reporters on Thursday.

“It’s likely we’ll go unchanged but it’s still a possibility when we see that wicket tomorrow morning that we’d go for another spinner.”

Top order batsman Marnus Labuschagne’s part-time leg-spin, which has earned him 12 wickets in 13 Tests, offers Paine another option if Australia decide to stick with one specialist spinner and the SCG wicket turns towards the end of the match.

Big wins in Perth and Melbourne have given Australia an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series going into the Sydney Test, which starts on Friday.

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