Frustration as game is called off at the Oval

2013-11-29 00:00

DAY one of the Sunfoil Four Day Series clash between the Dolphins and Knights at the Pietermaritzburg Oval was abandoned shortly after midday yesterday due to a wet outfield and a pitch which, having sweated under the covers, needed time to dry and firm up.

Earlier, umpires Earl Hendrikse and Ian Howell, with third umpire Bryan Mantle, had been optimistic that some play would be possible. However, Pietermaritzburg delivered one of its “four seasons in one day” occasions and by all accounts, getting play under way at 9 am today remains a challenge.

“We actually had the covers off about half-an-hour before play was due to start, but no sooner had we opened up the pitch, the rain returned,” said Mantle. “We decided to give it until the lunch break at 11.30 am and then make a call.”

At times, it looked as though the clouds might hold and it even got brighter but, just as umpires inspected the playing area and the outfield had some time to dry out, down came the rain in hard bursts, ruining any chance of play.

Just after lunch, players, coaches and officials had another look at the pitch and called it a day.

“The pitch needed some time to firm and in the time it would have taken, there would have been no time for play at all yesterday,” said Howell. “It would have been too dangerous for the bowlers as their run-up areas were still wet and they would have battled with any footholds at the end of their delivery stride.”

Looking at the wicket before play was called off, it has more than its fair share of grass. It’s vastly different to last week’s dry and crumbly surface and the fast bowlers from both sides must be licking their lips for the opportunity to let rip.

No toss has been done and if play does get under way today, the correct call could be vital.

Graham Onions expressed his frustration when given the afternoon off, saying: “It’s tough playing cricket here in Durban with the weather like it is at this time of the year. All I want to do is play and get into a rhythm, but this weather keeps messing things up. It’s frustrating.”

Perhaps Dolphins coach Lance Klusener summed it up best when asked what he does when waiting for the umpires to make their call. “I told the guys to go back to where they are staying and just relax. As for me, I head straight for the fishing shop.”

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