England 162 New Zealand 127-2<i> (Abandoned because of rain)</i>: England's time-wasting tactics rain on Kiwi parade

New Zealand were robbed of a deserved victory last night through a combination of gamesmanship and weak umpiring in the second match of the NatWest Series. With eight wickets in hand the Black Caps needed just seven runs to win in one over when persistent rain descended on Edgbaston, causing the umpires to take the teams from the field and the match to end as a no-result.

New Zealand's not out batsmen, Brendon McCullum and Scott Styris, were understandably reluctant to leave the field after watching England push the spirit of cricket to the limit with deliberate acts of time-wasting. With threatening clouds loitering around Edgbaston, Paul Collingwood knew that by slowing up his team's over-rate he would increase the chances of rain saving his side from defeat, and he proceeded to do just that, bowling 13 overs in the first hour of New Zealand's reply.

Collingwood, the England captain, and his team will consider the tactic to be legitimate and professional, and be satisfied that it produced the desired result; New Zealand's players might have an unprintable word or two to describe it. Javegal Srinath, the match referee, surprisingly decided to take no action.

On a dank, miserable day a patient crowd deserved better. For most of the day they sat under umbrellas hoping that the weather would clear and it was only when they began slow hand-clapping at around 1.50pm that the groundstaff jumped in to action and removed the covers.

Umpires Ian Gould and Steve Davis did their best to produce a result, keeping the players out in atrocious light and drizzle, and were probably right to take the players from the field when they did. But earlier in New Zealand's innings, and knowing what Collingwood and co were up to, they should have done more to hurry England along to increase the over-rate. By allowing Collingwood's side to deliberately dawdle they deprived the Black Caps of the win they deserved.

The playing conditions, which stipulated that there should be a 30-minute interval between innings, did not help New Zealand either. Had it been 15 minutes, as it is in Twenty20 cricket, the tourists would have been given the time needed to win, too.

Unlike in Twenty20 cricket, where five overs make a match, 20 overs need to be completed in 50-over cricket for the result to count, and at the end of the 19th over, New Zealand, on 127 for 2, needed just seven runs to reach their Duckworth/Lewis revised target. All in all, it was another example of common sense not prevailing and cricket shooting itself in the foot.

That the Black Caps came so close was largely due to McCullum, who finished unbeaten on 60. McCullum has made his reputation on big shots and risky strokeplay but on this occasion he was a model of responsibility, looking for boundaries at the right time but taking the easy runs when they were available. Ross Taylor and Scott Styris, who batted in a similar manner, gave him excellent support.

An aggressive 52 from Luke Wright dominated England's innings. The home side's attempts to continue dominating the Black Caps by posting a big total was not helped by an untimely shower, which reduced the duration of their innings from 29 to 24 overs. That Wright was caught at long off the ball before the players left the field was unwanted, too.

Wright is not a particularly pretty batsman to watch, his strokeplay is more that of a blacksmith than a sculptor, but when he makes contact with the ball it stays hit. Tim Southee became aware of this when the Sussex all-rounder smashed him for 20 runs in an over. Wright's second international half-century came up off the 33rd ball he faced, and he perished attempting to hit Grant Elliott over the pavilion and on to the Edgbaston Road.

Wright's fireworks helped soothe the crowd's disappointment at witnessing Kevin Pietersen fall for just 13. Pietersen's innings contained no switch-hitting, only an agricultural heave to long on before he was caught at mid-off. A mix up between Ravi Bopara and Collingwood, which resulted in Bopara being run out, reduced England to the precarious position of 80 for 4.

Collingwood and Owais Shah helped rectify the situation with a 31-ball partnership of 46, whilst Dimitri Mascarenhas added much needed impetus in the final overs, scoring 23 off 13 balls.

Vettori bemoans 'gamesmanship' and ineffective umpires

New Zealand captain, Daniel Vettori, accused England of gamesmanship and umpires, Steve Davis and Ian Gould, of mismanagement after yesterday's farcical abandonment at Edgbaston, when only one more over would have produced a result.

"We feel hard done-by," Vettori said. "We think it is a game we would have won if we had got through that 20th over. There was obviously a bit of gamesmanship going on. England's over-rate was particularly slow, although in that situation we would have probably done the same thing. It is part of the game and you cannot attack anyone for that.

"What was needed was for the umpires to take control and dictate the play. They needed to chivvy things along and make sure the game kept progressing."

Both captains agreed that the 30-minute break between innings determined by competition regulations should have been cut. "We were a bit surprised it was not reduced," England's Paul Collingwood said. "We had had lunch before play began so there was nothing really to do for 30 minutes. We were ready to go out after 10 or 15 minutes. It is something that needs to be looked at."

Vettori added: "It needed a commonsense solution. We had bowled one allotment of 13 overs and one of 11, so it was not as if we were tired.

"With the knowledge of what weather was coming it could have been reduced to 10 minutes and we could have got straight back out."

Collingwood denied that England had deliberately bowled slowly and match referee Javagal Srinath confirmed that, after allowances were made for delays, their over-rate was acceptable, even though when the match was called off only six minutes remained to bowl four overs.

Jon Culley

Edgbaston scoreboard

New Zealand won toss

England

I R Bell c Vettori b Mills 0

L J Wright c Styris b Elliott 52

K P Pietersen c Vettori b Mason 13

R S Bopara run out 10

*P D Collingwood c Flynn b Elliott 37

O A Shah lbw b Elliott 18

A D Mascarenhas c Hopkins

b Southee 23

†T R Ambrose c Taylor b Mills 1

G P Swann c Hopkins b Southee 1

S C J Broad run out 1

J M Anderson not out 0

Extras (b1 lb2 w2 nb1) 6

Total (24 overs) 162

Fall: 1-0 2-40 3-77 4-80 5-126 6-137 7-147 8-161 9-161.

Bowling: Mills 5-1-24-2; Southee 5-0-35-2; Mason 2-0-24-1; Elliott 5-0-23-3; Vettori 5-0-27-0; Styris 2-0-26-0.

New Zealand

J M How c Shah b Broad 16

B B McCullum not out 60

L R P Taylor c Wright b Collingwood 25

S B Styris not out 19

Extras (lb4 w3) 7

Total (for 2, 19 overs) 127

Fall: 1-25 2-79.

Did not bat: G D Elliott, D R Flynn, †G J Hopkins, *D L Vettori, K D Mills, M J Mason, T G Southee.

Bowling: Anderson 3-0-16-0; Broad 3-0-28-1; Collingwood 4-0-23-1; Wright 3-0-20-0; Swann 5-0-26-0; Mascarenhas 1-0-10-0.

No result. Series: 1-0 to England

Umpires: S J Davis and I J Gould.

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