David Leggat on sport

David Leggat is a Herald sport writer

David Leggat: Whoever scheduled this tour must be wet behind the ears

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Martin Guptill. Photo / Getty Images
Martin Guptill. Photo / Getty Images

About now it's easy to imagine conversations taking place in a Colombo hotel.

"Who scheduled this tour for now anyway?"

"Monsoon lovers."

After two matches on their tour of Sri Lanka, New Zealand have had 16 overs on a plasticine pitch in Pallekele, in conditions seam bowlers love and batsmen loathe, followed by a total washout of the opening ODI.

They've moved to Colombo and, surprise, surprise, the rains have followed.

Yesterday's forecast had the encouraging word "thunder-showers" and one of those large lightning bolts sandwiched between angled rain lines.

Now look at Sri Lanka's rainfall rates. This is the second inter-monsoon season over there.

One month has a mean total rainfall of 414.4 millimetres, by a distance the wettest month of the year.

Go on, have a guess which month it is?

All of which makes a side bet worth exploring. New Zealand have four ODIs and two tests, running through until November 29 remaining on this tour. How many overs will be bowled on this entire tour?

And in turn that begs the question: who scheduled this trip? Doubtless there will be rejoinders that the programmes of both teams made it a challenging job finding a slot and that under the Future Tours Programme it had to be played. For some players, another day sitting in a dressing room, or back at the hotel with the ubiquitous earphones in place, is a chance to put their feet up.

But generally sportsmen and women like playing. That's what they're thousands of kilometres from home for. That's what their life is about. Even if they're a bit jaded, it's still what they enjoy, in the case of cricketers certainly more so than meetings and net sessions.

That's why they do what they do.

Consider players such as Andrew Ellis, Adam Milne, Ronnie Hira and BJ Watling. This is a chance for them to make a statement about their capabilities with challenging series away to South Africa and home to England looming this season.

Be very sure they're not enjoying sitting about, staring at the skies.

Martin Guptill is having a rest at home before heading to Galle for the first test. Doug Bracewell is playing for Central Districts against Auckland this weekend.

I'm picking that, given the choice where they'd rather be right now, it would not be watching the raindrops bouncing off the ground in the Teardrop Island.

The mind goes back over two decades to a test in Colombo made most notable (if that's the right word) by debutant Brendan Kuruppu's unbeaten 201, made over 777 minutes; Jeff Crowe crawling to what is still the fourth slowest test hundred; and Richard Hadlee making New Zealand's 100th test century. It was a thrill-a-minute match, 803 runs off 336.5 overs, an average of 2.3 runs per over.

As this match hurtled along at its merry clip, you could set your watch by the rain. You had half an hour's warning as the bank of muddy clouds made their way towards the Colombo Cricket Club ground in late afternoon. Regular as clockwork. That was in April.

Those rainfall numbers have been set over a 30-year period, enough you'd think to suggest they do count for something.

So here's hoping 30 years of statistics are proved wrong, starting tomorrow night in the second ODI. Otherwise it's going to be a long month.

- NZ Herald

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