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The Christchurch Press Black Caps denied chance to tie series
The Christchurch Press - 31 March 1999

New Zealand's cricketers were left frustrated at being denied to the chance to square the one-day cricket series against South Africa when the final match was abandoned in drying winds and brilliant sunshine.

National coach Steve Rixon said the Black Caps were desperately keen to play yesterday and attempt to level the series after trailing, 2-3, entering the match.

By comparison, South Africa was reluctant to play, already holding the advantage in the six-game BNZ series and keen to make a mid-afternoon flight connection back to the republic. South Africa was also concerned about the possible injury risk to players on a slippery surface, especially on one of the bowler's run-ups, with the upcoming World Cup.

Umpires Steve Dunne and Evan Watkin decided the matter by calling play off shortly after noon, believing the ground had not recovered enough from rain the previous day.

``We could have played out there today. The conditions were getting better. We were happy to play under any circumstances,'' Rixon said.

Rixon acknowledged that while conditions were improving, it was not a massive improvement. He conceded the conditions could have still been sub-standard had a reduced-over match started at 1pm.

Rixon said the Basin Reserve was the best cricket ground in the country, but needed to upgrade its drainage system, with regular delays when rain falls.

However, that seems unlikely with Wellington's new stadium to be completed early next year, and major one-day and test cricket matches to be played there.

The outcome was New Zealand's first one-day home series loss since 1994-95 when it was beaten 3-0 by the West Indies, with eight series in intervening years.

Over-all, Rixon felt New Zealand had improved this season, despite series losses at test and one-day level to the Proteas, being more consistent, although usually undermanned with injuries to key players.

National selection panel convener Ross Dykes was not totally satisfied with the season's performances, saying that while greater consistency had been shown, it was not being achieved often enough.

South African skipper Hansie Cronje said the Proteas had been taken aback by the performance of the Black Caps initially when they led the one-day series, 2-1.

He was more impressed with the way his team finished the tour and said nothing less than World Cup victory in England during May and June would be good enough.

``We won the Texaco Trophy series against England in their conditions last year and that enabled us to get the feel for conditions over there at that time of the year.''

South Africa's master batsman Daryll Cullinan drove away with the Hyundai Sonata car as the prize for the international cricketer of the year.

Cullinan made the highest score by a South African of 275 not out at test level against New Zealand in the first test in Auckland, and followed that with 152 in Wellington to return the astronomical average of 427, a world record for a three-test series. He also featured prominently in the one-day series.

Source: The Christchurch Press
Editorial comments can be sent to The Christchurch Press at press@press.co.nz