New Zealand's three-day warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI at Blacktown International Sports Park in Sydney has been called off at lunch on the second day due to poor pitch conditions.
Pictures appearing on Twitter show a surface more like what Apollo XI faced on the moon landing than what the Black Caps XI would have expected to bat on ahead of the first test against Australia, starting Thursday at Brisbane's bouncy 'Gabba.
The visitors, led by Brendon McCullum, have double declared after the CA XI pulled out of their first innings at 503 for one in 121.1 overs. Aaron Finch was 288 not out and Ryan Carters made 209 before being caught by B-J Watling off the bowling of Tom Latham. Latham had previously bowled seven balls in first-class cricket.
The New Zealanders decided the pitch was unplayable and detrimental to their build-up. They ended up resting their specialist bowlers, with McCullum preferring to employ himself, Latham, Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor.
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson described the pitch as "a jigsaw with about half the pieces missing."
"They can't grow grass on it so it is just rolled mud which, under heat, has dried and bits have fallen out. It's similar to about a day four wicket in Abu Dhabi.
"We didn't gain a lot out of the match. The new ball last night took some holes out of the surface and we decided it was best for player safety to bowl spinners.
"Both teams agreed it was unsafe for first-class cricket. Cricket Australia are trying to organise alternative practice facilities for us tomorrow in Sydney."
The CA XI began the second day at 376 without loss, before Finch and Carters advanced to the 14th 500-run partnership in first-class history.
Tim Southee only bowled three overs in the innings after leaving the field yesterday with an upset stomach. Trent Boult was rested.
Finch and Carters were part of the CA XI because they had been overlooked by their states for the current round of Sheffield Shield.
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