Cricket: New wet woes looming for NZ

By Andrew Alderson

The wedging of New Zealand cricket tours into rain-filled segments of the international calendar looks set to continue after the current Sri Lanka series.

Two series in the next 18 months - away against Sri Lanka and the West Indies - are set for the wet season in those locations and the International Cricket Council's scheduling likely consigns players to further cabin fever where they'd be advised to take some decent reading material, video games or poker sets, depending on their preference.

It reflects the difficulty the ICC's Future Tours Programme has in scheduling cricket through until April 2020. New Zealand's top players (i.e those involved in the Indian Premier League) are set down to play all but two years of that seven-year and five-month period.

At this rate, cricket fans will struggle to retain an interest in teams like New Zealand who are battling in all formats.

New Zealand is scheduled to tour Sri Lanka for another three one-dayers and one Twenty20 international next November which, given each of the five one-dayers and the sole T20I were affected by rain this year, make little sense. That series follows a two test/three ODI/one T20I tour to Bangladesh (a series also scheduled at the back end of that country's rainy season).

Similarly, as the West Indies' test cricket fortunes have declined, they have been dealt more home games in June-July which now form a regular part of their wet season. New Zealand tour there in May-June-July 2014.

Rain is less of a problem in the Caribbean than the monsoon seasons of Asia but it remains risky holding matches in the middle of the year.

The West Indies have started 23 of their 221 home tests in June, July or August. Twenty of those have taken place since 2002 as the team slid further into the lower test ranks.

Since rain records have been recorded on cricinfo.com from 2006, 12 of the last 15 tests in the Caribbean during those months have been affected by rain.

New Zealand's decline in test fortunes has also seen them shuffled to the periphery of stronger countries' home itineraries. England last played New Zealand in July or August - the peak of their summer - during the 1999 series which the Stephen Fleming-led visitors won 2-1.

The most recent time New Zealand played a test after Christmas in Australia was Boxing Day 1987. That doubled as the last time New Zealand played a test in Melbourne or Sydney. It is a right they need to earn back, which, judging by the opening test against Sri Lanka, is some time away.

- Herald on Sunday

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