The air quality in Canberra will be monitored during the opening set of matches in the tri-series between Australia, England and India as smoke haze continues to impact the Australian capital from bushfires in the region.
The series gets underway on Friday when England take on India at Manuka Oval before Australia play twice over the weekend.
Australia trained in hazy conditions on Thursday after medical staff assessed the air quality. It was improved from Wednesday when smoke from a large bushfire south of the city blanketed Canberra. Earlier this season a BBL match between the Adelaide Strikers and the Sydney Thunder at Manuka Oval was abandoned when smoke drifted across the ground.
At one point on Thursday the Air Quality Index (AQI) hit 167 which falls in the ‘unhealthy’ range – 300 is when it is considered hazardous and the point at which ICC guidelines say consideration should be given to halting matches. By the evening it had dropped to a moderate level of 78.
The final decision on conditions during the matches will be in the hands of the umpires and ICC match referee although they will consult with medical staff including the Australia team doctor Philippa Inge.
“There was a little bit [of smoke] around and it’s something we need to keep an eye on, but we got through all our training and our doctor is keeping an eye on what all that looks like,” Australia captain Meg Lanning said. “It’s out of our hands, really, so it’s not something we are too concerned about. If we get delayed or things like that then we’ll have to deal with but with the fires going on there’s a lot of devastation around the country and they are the people we need to worry about and support.”
An additional factor over the weekend will be very high temperatures that are expected to exceed 40 degrees although from Australia’s point of view the heat was not a concern.
“Yeah, it’s going to be pretty hot over the weekend but it’s a summer sport and we expect conditions like that and we are reasonably used to it as well,” Lanning said. “We’ll leave those sorts of decisions [about the game] to the doctor and the match ref, they are the experts in that and they’ll make those decisions and we’ll go with whatever happens.”
England trained indoors at Phillip Oval, south-west of the city centre, on Thursday although it is understood that was not directly related to issues over the air quality. They have three asthmatics in their squad who have not reported any problems during the stay in Canberra.
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.