TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
SOUTH Africa’s only chance to adjust to New Zealand pitches under match conditions was lost on Tuesday when their warm-up game in Auckland was washed out.
Rain forced the T20 fixture against a New Zealand XI, which was to be played at Eden Park Outer Oval, the main ground’s B field, to be called off at the scheduled start time.
The weather could also endanger Friday’s T20 international at Eden Park – the forecast is for rain until Saturday.
South Africa’s team management might need the time off to rejig their travel plans, what with the fourth one-day international on March 1 having been moved 300 kilometres across New Zealand’s north island from Napier to Hamilton.
The visitors are unlikely to complain about the change, having never lost at Hamilton’s Seddon Park.
South Africa have beaten India and New Zealand in ODIs in Hamilton, won a T20 against the Kiwis there, and clinched a test series at the ground in 2012.
A New Zealand Cricket release on Tuesday said an investigation into the abandonment of an ODI between New Zealand and Australia at Napier’s McLean Park on February 2 “highlighted a need for urgent remedial work on the venue’s turf, drainage, and irrigation system”.
Napier’s city council have already committed to a “$900 000 upgrade of McLean Park, with planning to start immediately on installing a complete replacement of the playing surface, drainage and irrigation system, on top of an existing commitment to build drop-in pitches, improve the lighting, and build practice facilities on site”.
That kind of money – almost R8.6-million – will make South Africa’s administrators take notice.
When the test between South Africa and New Zealand at Kingsmead in August was bedevilled by rain, KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union officials said they couldn’t afford the R400 000 that would pay for covers to protect the entire playing area.