ICC preps back-up pitch for WTC final in case of protestor disruption

The Oval gets ready to host the World Test Championship final between Australia and India
June 06, 2023

The ICC has been preparing a back-up pitch at The Oval for the World Test Championship final, as a precaution against the threat of potential disruptions by activists from Just Stop Oil. The move to prepare another pitch is to guard against a worst-case scenario and the strip that will be used for the Test, which begins on Wednesday, remains the same one which has been tended over the past few days.

The move comes after a series of disruptions by Just Stop Oil activists, a coalition made up of environmental action groups fighting to raise awareness about climate change, at sporting events across UK over the last year. Premier League football, the World Snooker Championships and Premiership Rugby Union have all been affected.

Last week the England men's team bus, en route to Lord's for the one-off Test against Ireland, was held up briefly on the first morning after being blocked by activists. On Monday morning, the Australia team bus was similarly delayed, stuck in traffic because of Just Stop Oil protests, as they headed to The Oval for training.

The ICC has updated its playing conditions for the WTC final with a clause accounting for the use of another pitch in case the one in use is damaged, or is deemed dangerous. The initial step in the playing conditions is to see if the existing pitch can be repaired and the match to restart from the point it was stopped subject to the surface not affecting either team.

In case the original pitch cannot be repaired a new pitch will come into play. Only if it is not possible to resume the match on that other pitch will the match then be abandoned and deemed a no-result.

Both teams have been informed by the ICC of the development. "It's something we got in the security briefing a couple days ago," Pat Cummins, the Australian captain, said. "I've heard that they're aware of it and kind of keep an eye out. But that's as much as we've heard.

"So hopefully, it doesn't happen, obviously. But I've heard there's a few different events that have been affected."

Cummins has been a vocal advocate on the climate and formed the Cricket for Climate group along with fellow Australian cricketers to reduce the sport's carbon footprint. "First of all I have to say I haven't really followed it at all, so I don't really know what these protests are about, but my view is always there's right ways to go about things and potentially not the right way to go about things," Cummins said on what he thought of method used by Just Stop Oil protestors. "Whenever anyone's got any beliefs, you just hope you take the right option."

Security has been beefed up for both teams as well as for the Test, which is a sellout for all five days.

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