TELFORD VICE, Kingsmead
SOMETIMES cricket makes no sense. Sunday – which should have been the third day of the first test between SA and New Zealand at Kingmead – was one of those times.
The sun rose bright and early. There was no wind. It was a glorious late winter day.
Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander had bowled like the demons of seasons past on Saturday, when New Zealand stumbled to 15/2 in reply to SA’s first innings, a suddenly not so mediocre 263.
What a day was in prospect, the spectators who trickled through the gates on Sunday must have thought …
But the only cricket they saw was played on the grass banks by bored children.
The 65 millimetres of rain that on Saturday night brought the total for the past three weeks to 420 millimetres – or as much as Durban receives, on average, for the whole of August, September and October.
That has turned the deeper reaches of the outfield – which are bare of grass in several places because of poorly done decompacting work – into patches of mud.
So while the day looked perfect for cricket, the previous night had delivered unplayable conditions.
Kingsmead was waterlogged when the groundstaff arrived but the ground soon dried significantly, and the forecast suggests the remainder of the match should not suffer interruptions for rain.
But not enough to satisfy the umpires, Ian Gould, Richard Illingworth and Shaun George, that the surface was safe enough for play to resume on Sunday.
Having delayed the scheduled start of play at 10am, they conducted inspections at noon and 2pm before abandoning proceedings for the day.
The lower lying south-west corner of the ground near the boundary seemed especially sodden, as was an area between the boundary and the pitch table at the Umgeni River end.
A message on the scoreboard read: “Underfoot conditions remain treacherous; water comes to the surface on footfall.”
On Saturday, only 12 overs were possible before bad light followed by rain ended proceedings.
Add to the equation Friday’s stoppage for bad light and Sunday’s situation, and almost two full days have now been sacrificed to the elements.