Cricket: Lord's one-day washout leaves DeFreitas high and dry: England take the Texaco Trophy as rain robs Test hopefuls of a trial run against New Zealand. Martin Johnson reports

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The Independent Online
THE dress code for the Lord's pavilion was amended slightly over the weekend - to life-jacket and tie - and the second one-day international between England and New Zealand was consigned to a watery grave yesterday morning. England thus won the Texaco Trophy on the basis of their victory at Edgbaston on Thursday, while New Zealand's first one-dayer at Lord's ended without them even making it out of the dressing-room.

The 24,000 ticket-holders at least get their money back for a total washout, although there is no refund for the 18,000 Edgbaston spectators, who stumped up between pounds 22 and pounds 34 for a total washout in terms of entertainment. Lord's prices for this game were between pounds 30 and pounds 42, although anyone willing to sit in the lower Grandstand, where the view barely extends to the height of a player's kneecaps, would have forked out only pounds 14.

Remarkably enough, in the 24 years since the first one-day international was staged in this country, there has only been one previous occasion (West Indies v Sri Lanka at The Oval in the 1979 World Cup) of a game being abandoned without a ball being bowled.

Yesterday's full refund would have applied for anything less than 10 overs, with 50 per cent for less than 25. The Test and County Cricket Board have slightly amended their policy since their public relations own goal at Edgbaston during the 1992 Test match against Pakistan. On that occasion, spectators were charged full whack for the privilege of watching two balls.

The TCCB has insured against refunds since 1985 (since when they have paid out for six days, all in Test matches) and they (and more importantly, the impoverished counties) will not lose their pounds 700,000 share-out from the advance receipts at Lord's. Next year's premiums, though (on the same basis as losing your no-claims bonus for bumping the car) will be that much steeper.

The players also got paid for no work, although one or two might have lost the opportunity to come in for some Test match wages on Thursday week. Phillip DeFreitas, who would have played here because of the injury to Yorkshire's Darren Gough, missed the chance to impress, and now has a Benson and Hedges Cup quarter-final and a county match starting on Thursday in which to catch the eye of the selectors before their meeting on Saturday night.

Gough's side strain is also likely to remove him from that debate, although two previously unconsidered candidates have emerged in Richard Stemp and Craig White. Both have made good starts to the season, but under the Ray Illingworth regime, it does not appear to be an intolerable handicap to be playing for Yorkshire at present.

The depressing start to the international summer may also have a knock-on effect in that it has contrived (no mean feat, this) to lower New Zealand's profile even further. Judging from advance Test ticket sales, punters are saving their cash for South Africa's first visit here since 1965.