South Africa-New Zealand first Test ends in a damp draw

23-sa-nz-drawn-testThe first test between South Africa and New Zealand ended in a damp draw on Tuesday without a ball bowled over the final three-and-a-half days due to a sodden outfield at Kingsmead.

Only 100 overs were possible in the match with New Zealand frozen on 15 for two wickets in their first innings for 11 sessions after the players left the field prior to lunch on the second day never to return.

The tourists were replying to South Africa’s first innings total of 263 all out on a difficult batting surface in what was the first winter test to be played in Durban.

South African captain Faf du Plessis backed the decision to call off play.

“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,” he told reporters.

“We respect the decision. 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.”

New Zealand coach Mike Hesson also felt it was the right decision.

“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,” he 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.”

The debacle will now place the spotlight on Cricket South Africa’s decision to play the game at Kingsmead, with no play possible for three days despite no rain.

Work was done to improve the outfield — removing sand and grass and relaying it — after both teams complained that it was too hard when they played a one-day International at the venue last year.

The work was completed on July 1 but recent flooding and a lack of sunshine has not helped the grass to properly recover, leaving it soft underfoot and patchy. The latest rains have exacerbated the situation.

The timing of the work is now under question as a similar process in Pretoria, where the second and final test is to start on Saturday, was completed in April.

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