Cricket: Queenstown now must win for Black Caps

By David Leggat

Black Caps coach Mike Hesson and bowling coach Shane Bond look on during the rained out second ODI. Photo /Getty
Black Caps coach Mike Hesson and bowling coach Shane Bond look on during the rained out second ODI. Photo /Getty

New Zealand's challenge in their ODI series with the West Indies now boils down to having to win three games on the bounce.

Yesterday's washout in Napier leaves the West Indies 1-0 going to Queenstown on Wednesday for game three in the five-match rubber.

It also guarantees the worst result for the tourists will be a drawn rubber if they win in the southern playground.

Finding themselves in repeat must-win situations, New Zealand's philosophy won't change, according to coach Mike Hesson.

''Not really, you try to win every game so we won't be changing that. We certainly won't be picking teams to experiment," he said after a frustrating day for players and the crowd.

Spectators vented their opinion loud and clear when the announcement was made at 5.20pm that the game was off due to a soaked outfield.

The problem was, from a perception point of view, that announcement was made with sun streaming down and no rain having fallen for two hours. To the crowd, it was perhaps fitting a New Zealand Cricket-contracted comedian had the microphone.

''The outfield was unfit for play and it was dangerous, so it was really a safety issue," NZC match manager Owen Harrison said.

''With a 7.12pm cutoff (for a minimum allowable 20-over game) and with less than two hours before that, it simply wasn't going to dry."

Spectators got a full refund.

Harrison's points are certainly valid. The outfield was soggy on the western side and the sun had gone for the day from that area. One circle of muddy water sat like a large wart.
The wart was peered at, prodded, but that was it, so it sat like defence exhibit one for any post-abandonment flak.

But what irked the 1000-strong crowd was that no attempt had been made by ground staff to try and dry the surface for over two hours when there was no rain and the sun was out.

It was as if they knew the score. Pity the crowd didn't.

Hesson admitted he was surprised at the conditions yesterday.

''We got here at 10 o'clock and even though it was drizzling it was pretty similar to (Saturday). But as it rained throughout the day the water sat on the surface because it had nowhere to go."

He added the bowlers runups were also wet. Rain had not bucketed down, but the ground simply couldn't cope.

Hesson confirmed speedster Adam Milne would have played yesterday to provide extra oomph to the seam attack. Whether he plays in Queenstown depends on the pitch conditions.

Tim Southee, back from minor toe surgery, bowled yesterday (crrt) morning and Hesson expects he will be ready to play in Nelson in game four next Saturday, and at a pinch in Queenstown.

New Zealand's batsmen would have been keen to take guard at the first available opportunity after their ordinary effort at Eden Park last Thursday, when they were reduced to 112 for nine, before reaching 156.

McLean Park would have provided it, on a pitch which is historically a batsman's friend.

Hesson also clarified his thinking around Auckland lefthander Colin Munro's role in the squad. He is the backup batsman and unless there is an injury is unlikely to figure in the XI in the series.

- NZ Herald

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