Cricket: Rain bedevils promise of an exciting finish

By Dylan Cleaver

If you are looking for a soundtrack for the series, anything by Scottish popsters Wet Wet Wet will do.

For the third time in this four-match series, weather had a huge say in the outcome. In Queenstown, the match was abandoned without a result; in Christchurch, there was a four-hour delay before the West Indies chased down a revised target; Wellington was not affected by weather but it was a truncated match anyway with the West Indies posting only 128, a target chased down in 20.3 overs; and last night, rain ruined any chance of the West Indies' pursuing 276 for victory, the match abandoned at 6.50pm with rain still falling steadily.

When officials finally pulled the pin, the Windies were 64-0 after 10.3 overs, with captain Chris Gayle on 46 and Sewnarine Chattergoon on 17.

Daniel Vettori, who thought the score of 275-4 was excellent on a tricky wicket, highlighted the frustrations of the many when he uttered: "It would have been a good game in the end."

The teams now go to Napier, where the long-range forecast is not good, locked at 1-1. Given that the Twenty20 and test series were both drawn, this is shaping as the most inconclusive tour in recent history.

It is frustrating for the fans and for New Zealand Cricket. Although they are insured against the refunds they have to offer spectators in the event of a no-result, they are not insured against the loss of revenue from overseas broadcasters.

"If there's no result, we don't get paid," chief executive Justin Vaughan said.

What cricket there was belonged to Martin Guptill, who in the process of scoring a debut century should have added a fair amount of intrigue to the final one-day international. However, the intrigue that was dampened almost immediately by his captain.

Having been picked at No 3, Guptill made such a good fist of opening it seems logical to leave him there and drop either the out-of-form Brendon McCullum or the inadequately prepared Jesse Ryder.

"Jesse will come back in as opener and Martin will drop down to No 3," Vettori said emphatically.

Guptill, who for his part said one, two or three was all the same to him, will now become one of the few batsmen to be demoted after scoring a century.

Vettori also said Ryder, who carried the drinks to rapturous applause all day yesterday, realised he had let the team down and was "probably embarrassed" by the crowd's reaction.

Vettori was instrumental in keeping Ryder with the squad today. It was a two-fold approach.

"The guys like him, want him around and want to help him through this," he said, adding that he also needed to be held accountable for his actions, and not be able to "slink off" and avoid the spotlight.

Further down the order, Daniel Flynn will be starting to feel the pinch after a three-ball duck at No 5. However his main competition for that slot, Mathew Sinclair, hardly pressed his claims after nicking out for two.

On the flip side, Gayle was in the process of making New Zealand's seam attack of Kyle Mills, Mark Gillespie and Tim Southee (three balls, 10 runs conceded) look fairly ordinary until the rains came tumbling.

NZC will be hoping for more settled weather in March when the Indians arrive, though it is still not clear how many tests they will play.

Vaughan is giving the two bodies - NZC and the BCCI - until the beginning of next week to make a third test happen.

"The only way it is going to happen is if the Indians agree to compromise," he said.

With a split series - one test followed by the Twenty20 and one-day internationals followed by the final two tests - ruled out, the only way to squeeze in an extra test would be for the tourists to forgo a first-class warm-up match and squeeze the dates between the Hamilton and Auckland ODIs.

- Herald on Sunday

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