Wet outfield prevents play in Durban, embarrasses South Africa

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 20: Reserve umpire, Shaun George walk off as the rain falls during day 2 of the 1st Sunfoil International Test match between South Africa and New Zealand at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on August 20, 2016 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
The Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in Durban, South Africa covered due to rain

DURBAN, South Africa (Reuters) - A wet outfield again prevented play from resuming on time on the fourth day of the first test between South African 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 meant no play on the third day on Sunday, even though there were sunny skies.

Despite a gusty wind overnight, the situation had not improved enough for a prompt resumption on Monday as wet patches remained, raising questions about a recent decision to relay the outfield. It is also the first ever winter test in Durban.

New Zealand were struggling at 15 for two in reply to South Africa's first innings of 263 before the rain came.

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 recent 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.

Cricket South Africa told Reuters they would issue a statement on the situation later on Monday.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Keith Weir)

Edited by Staff Editor
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