Cricket: New Zealand discipline player over late night out

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The Independent Online
A spot of late-night relaxation after hard day at the Basin Reserve has led to New Zealand taking disciplinary action against one of their Test team.

Christopher Doig, New Zealand chief executive, said that one Kiwi player, believed to be the all-rounder Chris Cairns, was disciplined internally by the team management for being out unacceptably late after the second day of the Test against England. Doig, however, denied that several other players had been out in Wellington nightclubs until the early hours.

"Three others returned to the team hotel at 12.15am and we feel midnight is a reasonable time to be in during a match," Doig said. "One player was later than that. He has been spoken to by the team manager [John Graham] who pointed out that his time of return to the hotel was unacceptable. The matter is being dealt with internally. As far as we are concerned that is the end of the matter."

The New Zealand weekly newspaper, Sunday News, claimed that Cairns returned to the team's hotel about 4am on Saturday morning. A Wellington taxi driver rang a local radio station to say he had dropped Cairns off in the early hours. Four other players were also reported to have been seen drinking in bars in the city at about 1.30am.

At that stage of the Test, England were 204 for 3 in reply to New Zealand's disastrous first innings 124. Cairns played no part on Saturday after bruising a finger the previous day.

Graham said that the allegations "are not accurate and the New Zealand team management is satisfied that all players were fully prepared and focused on the task at hand".

The allegations add to a poor record of off-field behaviour by New Zealand players, including an incident in 1995 when three team members were suspended for smoking cannabis.

What was a bad day at the office for the Kiwis PR department also had the Sky Television commentator Paul Allott allege that his namesake and left-arm pace bowler Geoff Allott had illegally lifted the seam of the ball during Saturday's play.

Allott, the former Lancashire and England fast bowler, said the tampering was clear-cut, but the New Zealand management denied the charge, while the match referee, Peter Burge, pointed out that the umpires, Steve Bucknor and Doug Cowie, were satisfied that the ball's condition had not been altered.