Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 3rd ODI, Dambulla November 16, 2013

Mills slams tour scheduling


New Zealand acting captain Kyle Mills has slammed scheduling of his team's tour to Sri Lanka. He took particular aim at the decision to schedule play till 6pm in the deciding ODI in Dambulla, which he said lacked common sense. New Zealand needed 90 to win from eight overs, but had a belligerent pair at the crease, when the umpires ended play for bad light.

Play had originally been scheduled to end at 5:45, but had been extended 15 minutes after rains in the morning and afternoon. The sunset time was 5:49, though it is effectively slightly earlier in Dambulla, due to the hills to the town's west. Play was called off in very dim conditions at around 5:40, and the ground was in near-darkness at 5:55. Sri Lanka Cricket schedule the times of play in home matches.

"For a day game to have a scheduled close of play after sunset where obviously it's not possible to play - it doesn't sound like common sense to me," Mills said. "Especially when we fought our way into the match and were in a position to win it. We were in a better position today than we were in the last game, which we won. It's a bitter pill to swallow."

"We were told 33 overs, but we were aware that it was going to get dark not long after 5:30 and we probably weren't going to get our full allotment of overs in. I feel like we were slightly hardly done in that situation. Whether we would have gone on to win or lose is not something I can answer, but it is frustrating."

Although the decision to stop play was likely borne out of concern for player safety, New Zealand's batting pair - who were the most at risk - had struck 38 from three overs of pace bowling immediately prior to the game's end. Nathan McCullum had led his team's resurgence with a 19-ball 35, and protested vehemently when the umpires called it off, after Sri Lanka players had implored them to do so.

It was terrible to be honest. The fielders couldn't actually pick up the ball. They would have wanted to carry on because they wanted to bat through to win. It was getting very dark and unsafe.
Angelo Mathews on the state of the light, when play was called off

Perhaps anticipating a gloomy finish, Sri Lanka had uncharacteristically reserved all seven of Lasith Malinga's overs until after the 20th over of the innings.

"To score 90 runs off eight overs at the end is something we could have achieved," Mills said. "We arrived today with high hopes of winning 2-0. That was our goal when we arrived in the country. To walk away 1-1 feels a bit empty to tell you the truth. We had an opportunity to win 2-0, but due to circumstances it wasn't to be."

Mills also took a harsh view of scheduling cricket in Sri Lanka in October and November, after New Zealand's 2012 limited-overs series of Sri Lanka had also fallen in the northeast monsoon months. All three ODIs of this series were severely affected by the weather, with the first match having been washed out and the subsequent matches reduced to 23 and 33-over games, amid interruptions.

"Any cricketer gets frustrated when there's rain about. For every game to get affected is a bit disappointing for both teams and everyone involved, including the spectators, the fans and everyone who has a stake in the game. This is the second year we've been to Sri Lanka in the month of November and every game last year was also affected by rain, but those were the cards we were dealt."

Mills lauded his team's young players however, whom he said had showed considerable promise in the series, in the absence of three top batsmen.

"Today a couple of the young players stood up. Jimmy Neesham played well with the ball bat despite getting dislocated finger at the end of Bangladesh series. Mitchell McClenaghan bowled the best he has bowled all tour today. From the previous game, Tom Latham and Colin Munro - all guys who are inexperienced at this level. We can take a little learning from these games.

"A few guys stepped up and we've persevered really well in tough situations - both times with the ball. Sri Lanka got off to a good start and the way we fought our way back into each innings was exceptionally pleasing, especially today."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sachit on November 18, 2013, 4:53 GMT

    If anyone should complain I think it should be Sri Lanka. I would have really liked to see NewZealand SURVIVE 50 overs (let alone win it). I think they should thank the weather they drew the series. Frankly watching them flounder against the spinners if there was a full 50 over contest it would have been horribly one-sided. Any one who understand the game AND is not biased would agree.

  • sachit on November 18, 2013, 4:51 GMT

    @samincolumbia -exactly they could have won the game by an Innings, with McCullum scoring a triple century.

  • Dummy4 on November 17, 2013, 12:52 GMT

    I think Mills thoughts are absolutely correct. He has read the Sri lankan weather conditions during these season better than local cricket authorities. It's really a factor about common sense . Three series with this one have badly affected or almost washed out since 2010 during November -December period, one with WI s & two with NZ s. At the same time it's very clear for any one who lives in Sri Lanka that the darkness arrive early these days than normal & at 18 00 hrs it's almost dark.

  • Dru on November 17, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    I can understand Mills disappointment but even the hardest Kiwi supported have been surprised with a series win. The second game win was a bit of a fluke and after being 26/5, a win in the 3rd game would have been nothing short of another fluke. I do question why NZ were invited 2 years in a row to play in the rainy season. Yes we al understand the packed schedules these days but I don't believe organizing cricket in the rains (even when local cricket has not started) make much sense. I would rather suggest not plan cricket in the rain or alternatively play at a venue such as UAE where rain is not a concern. Cricket in the rain is more frustrating and no cricket at all!

  • Dummy4 on November 17, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    Your inexperience as a skipper is showing Kyle. Get over it. This is how the game is played. Sometimes conditions work for you sometimes against you. And to say that you would have won based on the results of a last game which needed 20 of the last over is like predicting an Australian series win against India based on that one 30 run over of Ishant.

  • Yohan on November 17, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    Dear Mills , i like kiwi team and support them whenever SL is not playing . but you seems to have got carried away with series victory in sight after rain affected second game . so you expected to win this 2-0 . the fact is if first game continued NZ would have been easy win to SL . Second game was a fluke as SL were in front till last over . here the same story and SL was in charge from the beginning till match stopped . So kiwi team should enjoy this victory and drawing this series is an achievement . Still they will be very competitive in T20 s .

  • Prashan on November 17, 2013, 4:37 GMT

    Kyle Mills must remember that in today's congested cricket calendar, it is hard to find an easy slot. With IPL running for nearly 2 months and with both SL and NZ dependent on IPL, have to choose a month like October or November to play matches. Sri Lanka does not have a winter as either it is wet or dry here. Yes November is the wettest month but not all days are as such and that was why 2 tests against NZ last year were completed without rain interruptions.

  • prasad on November 17, 2013, 3:22 GMT

    If There was full 50 over games Sri lanka would won easily. NZ had a chance because of shorter games .

  • Dummy4 on November 17, 2013, 2:42 GMT

    So why wasn't mills complaining after the 2nd game when the spinners couldn't grip the ball???? If they had "common sense" and knew it would be dark, they could have kept wickets in hand and stayed ahead of D/L. Everyone knows the D/L score for each wicket. Yes SLC scheduled the tour, but New Zealand accepted twice in two years as well... remember it takes two to tango.

  • Sammy on November 17, 2013, 1:41 GMT

    Utterly ridiculous end to the match, that the kiwis would have won easily like the last game! This is the only way SL can win games these days - umpires stopping the game to ensure a victory to Sri Lanka.

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