6.45 pm "The umpires are behind closed doors," says Simon Doull for the broadcast, presumably with the two captains. And worse, the rain has come back. Too many signs pointing to the ODI being abandoned without even the toss. Even Kane Williamson walks across to his team-mates, gesturing that it's all over.
No official word yet. Scratch that, the match has officially been called off.
Conditions underfoot were too wet and that posed a danger to player safety. The crowd are beyond disappointed, and they make that known in no uncertain terms whilst walking off. Perhaps they'd cheer up upon hearing there is a "full refund for their tickets," according to the Black Caps twitter account.
Australia were 0-1 down and would have wanted this match to happen to keep their hopes of winning the series alive. Now they can only level it in Hamilton on Sunday. Those scouring for what the weather might be like for that match, a quick check throws up that a sunny day is expected. We'll be here for that, hope you can join us too. For now though, it's goodbye.
Glen O'Grady: "NZ surely wanted this more? Drawn series means Aussies retain the Chappell-Hadlee trophy"
Bryce: "Got to feel for Brownlie. Might have been his last chance "
6.35 pm Inspection underway. Boos from the crowd, I'm told. Now or never. We'll soon find out. The area near the 30-yard circle seems to be the biggest concern. Finch dug his toes all the way into that area. While there has been no rain for close to five hours now, there has been little sunshine. Had to happen on the one day of the week when there was cricket scheduled. Tough luck for Napier and McLean Park. Either ways, decision expected soon.
David: "This player safety angle has gone a bit far. It reminds of of when they started moving the boundary ropes in from the boundary fence in the interests of fielder safety. Didn't seem to be a problem in my day - fielders just didn't dive into the fence. The irony of course is that, in spite of this concern about player safety they are just going go out there and throw a rock-hard projectile at each other at 140km/hr anyway."
Matt writes in from the stands: "The crowd has about given up, no rain in hours. There is nothing wrong with the drainage at McLean park. Okay, not perfect conditions i.e. it like a heavy dew out there but this is totally another example of the health and safety of players. After all this is a game where players will be facing 150kph bowling...not to coin a phrase toddler winks."
6.05pm Another inspection in 25 minutes, folks. We've had four inspections to determine the next inspection time. The wait continues. Just for the record, the previous ODI here between NZ and Pakistan in January 2016 was abandoned too.
Anthony: "Absurd. Player-preciousness aside, in this day and age if Napier can't afford covers that extend well beyond the circle, then take international cricket away from them."
Turtle Michael: "The Met says that Napier today has had 5.8mm of rain. That is 1/5th of an inch. An international ground should be able to cope with that. If not it should not be an international ground."
5.40pm Groundstaff doing their best, but still fairly damp beneath the surface. "This ground can't dry any more," says Simon Doull. Umpires keen to get the game underway, but there is the concern of injuries. New Zealand have a series against South Africa to follow. The players are nice and relaxed in the dressing room. All signs point to more delays.
colin: "Its a shame the game has been delayed. Any idea how much rain they had received today. Any ground around the world even with the best drainage, will struggle if it gets enough water. Plus it always rains in NZ. That's what their famous for." We haven't had a drop of rain for more than three hours, Colin.
Rob_Kiwi_in_Aus: "Gimmie a break on the player safety angle! Rugby, Soccer, AFL (list goes on) players play on soaking wet playing surfaces. As a player you are aware the surface is wet, so you wear longer spikes, or you account for the nature of the surface in how you complete movements on the field. The only argument worth putting forward is an imbalance between 1st and 2nd innings if one is wet and the other dry." Former players part of the commentary team on the host broadcaster are baffled too. We should've been out there an hour ago, they say.
5.15pm "The umpires are asking the groundsmen to work on a particular area," says Cricket Australia. The area of concern is on the edge of the 30-yard circle on one of the sides. All clear on the weather front.
Another inspection scheduled for 5.30 pm. Boy, all this with barely any rain since the scheduled start at 2 pm. It's been long since the players took the field, warming up, hitting throwdowns, even playing a bit of football. We need to start at approximately 7.15 pm for a 20-over game.
Claire: "It seems slightly ridiculous that we'll have, at minimum, a four hour weather delay for a game when the rain stopped five hours ago. Perhaps the ICC can discuss minimum drainage standards for approved venues in their meeting?"
Mouse: "I think I'm a pretty patient man, but this is really not good enough for an international sport. The sun is out and there's been no rain for hours, but they still can't play? Other sporting organisations competing with cricket for airtime, junior involvement etc, must just be sitting back and laughing themselves silly." We shouldn't diminish the issue of player safety, though. A big hunk of leather to any part of the body can cause serious damage. Similarly, if the fielders are running at full tilt and diving around say a wet area, they might easily injury themselves. With that said, McLean Park has had more than three hours to get itself fit. Must be tough for the groundsman, surrounded by people wondering why there's no cricket despite there being no rain.
Pony: "We're not diminishing the value of player safety, we're saying that the ground shouldn't host international matches if it's not up to standard, but this could rule out most NZ ovals." Sounds a bit harsh to me. Even places like Kingsmead in Durban and Port-of-Spain in Trinidad which have had plenty of experience hosting matches were caught napping by storms.
4.45 pm Kane Williamson and Aaron Finch are still in training clothes, standing around chatting at the ground. The umpires Kumar Dharmasena and Chris Brown though have slipped into their uniforms and are paying close attention to a spot Trent Boult had pointed out to them on the edge of the 30-yard circle, pounding their feet into it, occasionally bending down to push their hands into the grass to see if any water pools up. Now for a quick chat with the captains. Let's see what comes of it.
JFone: "As a kiwi I would hope that a shorter game format will help us. We are ranking #1 in T20!"
4.15 pm Toss has been delayed, again It was scheduled for right now, but the outfield hasn't recovered from the morning rains. Water welled up at some areas where the players were practicing, causing the umpires to reassess conditions. Another inspection of the ground is scheduled for 4.45 pm, which was when play was supposed to start from an earlier update. Hmm, that might mean the game might not be as long as 37-overs-a-side.
Simon: "You'd think 5 hours or driving a soggy sponge around in circles would be enough."
Magpie: "I sat through the abandoned game V Pakistan last year at McLean and held on to hope through several inspections but it was just too soggy. Hope we have better luck today. (Still pouring down in Wgtn so maybe Guns'N'Roses better start with November Rain)!" Darn it, how did I miss that joke.
Aaron: "Good to see our sport actually taking an interest in player welfare on the playing field, same can't be said for the footballers who endured 90 minutes in 40C plus temperatures in Adelaide recently, despite protests from players and management. That being said, I want some cricket!!"
GMC: "This is starting to look like being a 20-20 match. How do these squads compare to the respective 20-20 teams from both nations?" Considering Australia's squad has more power-hitters, and if Mitchell Starc decides to vent his frustrations at having to sit around and do nothing all day... Then again, Colin Munro's hit a 14-ball 50 and Trent Boult does have a pesky habit of hooping the ball around corners in swing-friendly conditions. They shouldn't feel entirely out of their depth.
3.45 pm We have confirmation that the toss is at 4.15 pm and the start half an hour after that. It will be a 37-overs-a-side game. There's no further rain in the radar, which is good news for the McLean Park drainage. Neither New Zealand nor Australia have named their teams, and could well pick an XI that suits the shortened nature of the contest.
Paul Bartlett: "Hi mate, Do not know what radar that you are looking at but i am about an hour drive from you south, and the sky is more black than the All Blacks Rugby shirt, and we will probably get more rain in the next 10mins" Well, yippee then. Although tweets from the McLean Park seem to suggest the weather isn't quite so dire.
"Can someone please remind me why we don't do the toss now and save ourselves 30 after the toss is made? Gotta fit in as many overs as possible" Fair question, Tim. But it could well be that the umpires thought the ground would be fit for play only at 4.45 pm, and therefore scheduled the toss for half an hour prior.
"Guptill is a big loss for NZ at the best of times, but the loss of those 13 overs will render a lot of NZ's middle-order grafters a bit less effective. On the other hand, if Finch can bring his Big Bash form to the table Australia will be very pleased with a shortened game." Pretty fair assessment that from Max. It's almost like I don't even have to be here.
Adrian Hood: "A 37 over match should have Munro and de Grandhomme grinning from ear to ear."
PJ Rees: "An ODI starting at 4:45pm, this'll be interesting, or dark..." Oh, there are enough light towers around the ground to take care of that little problem. Four by my count. More by Bruce's (who is right): "There are 6 light towers and the game will finish at the same time so was always going to be under lights"
3.20 pm The New Zealand bowlers, Tim Southee, James Neesham among them, are marking their run-ups. Signs that a start might not be too far away? The inspection is at 3.45 pm (as reported previously).
T: "NZ's biggest issue is what are they going to do about their 5th bowling option? Neesham was woefully exposed at Eden Park and if they had not got that last wicket, he would have been needed to bowl at the end. Aussie certainly weren't the only team with questions at the end of that game."
Gaz Williams: "Is it just me who is excited about the prospects of Blundell debuting today. He looks a fine player and reminds me a lot of Chris Nevin from the 90's." Hmm, judging from the warm-ups, it appears New Zealand might go for Dean Brownlie at the top of the order. But, in any case, we'll get confirmation of the teams in a little bit.
Jmani: "Do u guys want to come over here and play the game. Temp as warm as -9C, few snow flurries and pitch dark at Upstate, NY. But it isn't raining :p" Hypothermia for the win.
Stuart: "Here's hoping for another low-scoring thriller. I am sick of seeing 300+ slug fests. A tight 250-300 battle is way more interesting"
WetWilly: "At least it's not being played in Wellington. It's persisting down here. We do have a Guns'n'roses concert tonight which will be soggy" Hmm, wonder if it would be appropriate for them to start with Paradise City...
3.00 pm The players are out in the middle, milling about around the pitch, whilst the groundstaff continue about their business. The umpires Kumar Dharmasena and Chris Brown are out as well, stomping around the outfield to see how it feels underfoot. The crowd at McLean Park has been very patient, watching the weather clear up. There's even some blue sky around, Hawke's Bay really is a picture. Absolutely no rain. Just waiting on word if the playing conditions are good enough to start. Next inspection is at 3.45 pm. Definite reduction in overs then, considering we've already lost nearly two hours of playing time.
Meanwhile, a group of engineers in Pakistan have developed a way to read the flex of a bowler's elbow in real time and help them with regards to illegal actions. Ahmer Naqvi has more.
CricFlex, as the product is known, consists of small motion sensors (of the sort used in phones for orienting maps) attached to a sleeve that a bowler can wear. The device sends its readings to an app, either on a mobile phone or a computer, immediately after the bowler has delivered.
cdvenkat: "It's time that grounds should adopt the drainage facility like what KSCA [Karnataka CA] has which can drain nearly 5,000 litres of water in quick time, drying the outfield within minutes." Not entirely sure of those statistics, but here's more news on the Sub-air system.
2.50 pm The stumps have been stuck into the pitch at both ends, that's a good sign. Means play might not be too far away, although we do have to wait for the umpires' official word. They are due to check the outfield, which sustained some rain over the morning, for how it's held up.
GK: "At what stage and rate do we start losing overs?" If close to an hour's been lost. That is the case today. Although let's wait for official word.
RN: "hi AL - can i register the first rant of the day: No live telecast of this series in singapore is baffling ---perfect time, no clash with other matches and still no one wants to show it...at least you guys are there :)" Assuming the broadcast reforms the ICC are looking to put up go through, we might see the end of that.
2.25 pm Still 35 minutes to go for the inspection. So here's some news from around the world, the ICC are set to meet today in Dubai to vote on rolling back the Big Three reforms that were put in place in 2014. There are other issues on the table as well, including how best to structure Test cricket. Osman Samiuddin makes up and answers some FAQs around the matter here.
Julian: "Was at Eden Park for the first ODI. All was very relaxed until that incredible Stoinis onslaught, when it became very tense at the ground. Like many I was relieved to see Blackcaps win, though gotta say: WHAT AN INNINGS! I've been following international cricket obsessively since the '92 WC and that was possibly the cleanest hitting I've ever seen. Astonishing."
bigfella88 : "As a kiwi tuning in from Australia - I'm just hoping the rain stops, this I why I moved across the ditch....."
2.00 pm The main cover has been removed. Mopping underway. The groundstaff had their blowers out, drying out the areas beside the pitch. A Supersopper roams the park as well, tending to the outfield. And if all goes well we might have play in another hour or so, the umpires are scheduled for an inspection at 3.00 pm.
Joe Swan: "Sounded like a little rain but this delay seems to indicate a lot of rain fell? " I might have underplayed things
a bit. There I go again. Allow me to regroup by throwing Scott Oliver under the bus, who has been looking at how virtual reality could help batsmen be better in crunch situations.
Swanny's in with his reply, and it's excellently constructed. Full marks on sarcasm: "Careful now, you know with great power comes great responsibility...we trust you and believe everything you say!"
"As a Kiwi settling in to watch this from Aspen, Colorado, I'm hoping for a little less excruciation than the first ODI. Go the 'caps!" Humai's has done enough squeaking of the bum. But if the game is shortened that's usually a recipe for another thriller.
1.50 pm The rain has stopped, tap's been turned off for a while, actually, but the outfield has taken on enough water that the toss won't be happening any time soon. The umpires were out there about five minutes ago for a quick inspection. We'll keep you posted as further news comes in from Napier.
Ryan: "Wouldn't be surprised to see de Grandhomme play if it's going to be a shortened match. Neesham to open and CDG to fill his spot down the order."
Ben: "I was a bit surprised with the choice of Brownlie. What has happened to Devcich. Or even Worker, who got a big score yesterday." An unbeaten 80 yesterday, and an unbeaten hundred last week in the Ford Trophy 50-over domestic tournament.
We have confirmation that the start of this ODI has been delayed. News filtering in from McLean Park is that the pitch is still covered, although conditions are getting brighter with time. The two coaches, Darren Lehmann of Australia and Mike Hesson of New Zealand, are out in the middle, checking in...
Whilst we twiddle our thumbs/ guzzle down coffee/ cuss/ flail/indulge in 'I told you so's', let me distract you with this outstanding interview with former New Zealand wicketkeeper Ian Smith. The drummer in the band opens up on how it felt to play with legends like Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe, his record as the highest score at No.9 and of course, the underarm incident.
Switching over to some T20 news, that grand old man Michael Klinger could be looking at an Australia debut soon, having been picked to play against Sri Lanka later this month. "It was hard to keep the tears away," he said upon hearing the development.
"My black jeans got a bit wet on the way to the ground. I must admit I was a bit torn on whether to head to the Gun's and Roses concert in Wellington or the cricket. Think I made the right call. McLean Park looking a picture!" Paddy Maher is like me, it seems. Prefers a little precipitation.
The Goat: "The weather looks like its on the improve. Its certainly not cold. Thought I might dust off the budgies and head down to the stadium. looking forward to seeing Blundell get a go. "
Michael: "Are we looking at a rain shortened match at a small boutique NZ ground as a model for this afternoon? Hopefully like this one" Another instance of a young buck scoring a rip-roaring century - the fastest then.
FattyBoss: "I was at that game in Queenstown. It was absolutely freezing, felt like 5-8 degrees, in the middle of summer. The Windies boys were hunched and had trouble moving so anything not at them with a bit of power went to the boundary. What a man, what an innings. "
Algar: "Just down the road from McLean Park and it's still raining, first time in ages too. We need that rain in #Napier, but want an @Blackcaps victory even more. Confident the rain will stop soon."
Darryl: "The Hawkes Bay farmers are very happy when an ODI is scheduled for Napier. They know that on that particular day it will rain. Does the stats guru know just how many ODIs have been rained off at McLean Park?" Not sure it's as comprehensive as that, unfortunately. What's the computer equivalent of "it's only human"?
Martin Guptill has been ruled out of this match, having picked up an injury while Fielding in the last. So that means its likely Dean Brownlie will get his first international game in two years.
1.00 pm A flat pitch, the short boundaries, those roaring fans, tons of sixes, bags of wickets and hair-raising finishes. Eden Park gave a stunning presentation of why every one-day match in history should be held there. Napier might well feel like the man who has to speak after Mark Antony. But there's precious little chance it will hide away in a corner because of that. After all, New Zealand could win back the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy here.
Australia, though, won't make it easy. They might be travelling with an under-strength squad - and their captain Matthew Wade has returned home because of that back injury - but there is no shortage of power in their line-up and, as Marcus Stoinis proved, no shortage of belief either. Boy, what an innings he played the other day. One-hundred and forty-six of the best runs ever made in the format. And the sheer fact that it came from a man playing only his third international game of cricket. A lot to look forward to over the course of this afternoon. So stick around.
|Ross Taylor||Middle order Batter|
|Neil Broom||Middle order Batter|
|Colin de Grandhomme||Allrounder|
|Martin Guptill||Opening Batter|
|Colin Munro||Opening Batter|
|Kane Williamson (c)||Top order Batter|
|James Neesham||Batting Allrounder|
|Tom Latham †||Wicketkeeper Batter|
|Tom Blundell||Wicketkeeper Batter|
|Mitchell Santner||Bowling Allrounder|
|McLean Park, Napier|
|Series result||New Zealand led the 3-match series 1-0|
|Match number||ODI no. 003830a|
|Hours of play (local time)||14.00 start, First Session 14.00-17.30, Interval 17.30-18.15, Second Session 18.15-21.45|
|Match days||02 February 2017 - daynight (50-over match)|