DURBAN, South Africa (Reuters) - A wet outfield again prevented play on the fourth day of the first test between South Africa and New Zealand in what is becoming an increasing embarrassment for the hosts.
Heavy rain on Saturday night left the outfield at Kingsmead patchy, muddy and dangerous for the players and no improvement in the situation despite two clear days meant no play for a second successive day.
Despite a gusty wind overnight, wet patches remained and any possibility of play ended after a 2 p.m. inspection, raising questions about a decision to relay the outfield. It is also the first winter test in Durban.
“It is most unfortunate and certainly beyond our control that the heavy unseasonal rains in Durban had impacted our plans,” Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat said.
“We are sympathetic to the efforts of all the ground staff who have tried their level best to ensure match readiness despite the adverse weather conditions leading into this Test match.”
New Zealand were struggling at 15 for two in reply to South Africa’s first innings of 263 before the rain came just before lunch on Saturday - consigning the teams to their change rooms for the last two and a half days.
A soggy draw seems inevitable with only one day left to play.
Work was done to improve the outfield in Durban - removing sand and grass and relaying it – after both teams complained that it was too hard when they played there last year in a one-day international.
The work was completed on July 1 but flooding and a lack of sunshine has not helped the grass to properly cover, 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 test is to be played next week, was completed in April.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Keith Weir and Alison Williams