Cricket: Black Caps test ends in a draw after weather dominates

New Zealand were 15/2 in reply to South Africa's 263 after Dale Steyn made early inroads with quality pace bowling. Photo / AP
New Zealand were 15/2 in reply to South Africa's 263 after Dale Steyn made early inroads with quality pace bowling. Photo / AP

The first cricket test between South Africa and New Zealand was abandoned without a ball being bowled last night, leaving the two sets of players frustrated as they were forced to settle for a draw.

Although both teams said that they wanted to play, the umpires have the final say on whether conditions are safe enough.

A heavy downpour on Saturday night had left the outfield sodden, and umpires Ian Gould and Richard Illingworth decided that the muddy patches on the soft outfield represented too much of a danger on the final three days of the test.

"It's very clear that both teams were very keen to play, but we also respect that umpires are in charge of ground, weather and light," New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said.

"Even from the time we arrived at this venue, we knew that the outfield was in a poor state and obviously it couldn't handle the rain.

"But let's make it clear that both teams were very keen to play."

While the lack of action at Kingsmead during sunny days provided farcical scenes, the situation was complex.

Durban has received a large amount of unseasonal rain, and the relaying of the outfield in June left it vulnerable to such heavy thunderstorms.

"There were a few areas that were muddy and loose underfoot, so the umpires were worried that if you had to make a sudden movement or sprint, you could get badly injured," South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said.

"We respect the decision but it's quite disappointing that there wasn't any cricket after a good first day and a bit.

"From a captain's point of view, if one of your fast bowlers runs around the boundary and gets injured, you'd be pretty upset so they take all of these things into consideration."

South Africa had gained the upper hand in the 99.4 overs that were played on the first two days, reducing New Zealand to 15-2 after it had been bowled out for 263.

The second and final test gets underway at Centurion on Saturday.

While the outfield there has also been relaid, the match is not expected to be affected by the new surface or inclement weather.

"It's very disappointing in the sense that you play a test series that now becomes a one-off," Du Plessis said.

"You never really want to play test cricket like that."

- NZ Herald

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