The England coach, Peter Moores, has defended the go-slow tactics of his side in Wednesday's controversial NatWest Series encounter against New Zealand. Paul Collingwood, the captain, has been criticised for the role he played in ensuring the match ended in a no-result.
In a rain-affected game and with threatening clouds loitering around Edgbaston, Collingwood continually moved fielders to waste time, knowing the ploy would increase the chances of the match being abandoned. The tactic worked when persistent rain forced the umpires to take the teams from the field with just one over required to constitute a match. In that over New Zealand, with eight second innings wickets standing, needed just seven runs to complete a deserved victory.
"For me we did it right," Moores said. "Unfortunately we can't control the fact that we came off for rain. I think the stats prove the rate we were bowling at and there was no problem at all. There were some stoppages out of Paul Collingwood's control, like when the umpires had to check whether it went for four with Jimmy Anderson's stop on the boundary, it took a long time to resolve that and there's not a lot we can do about that.
"We were bowling within the time frame required and that is quite hard in one-day cricket. Paul said afterwards it was not a tactical issue, it was a tight game, you have to get things right but there were delays out of his control."
Javagal Srinath, the match referee, agreed with Moores' assessment by taking no action against England. Srinath judged that England, with time allowed for delays in play – even though Collingwood's side occasionally created them deliberately – somehow bowled their overs within the allocated time. Moores was as surprised as everyone that the break between innings was 30 minutes rather than 15 but he did not agree with the view that New Zealand were certain to win the game.
"There's an assumption here that New Zealand were definitely going to get those runs and not lose another wicket," he said. "I think they were just on top but we were still very much in the game and if we had got another wicket it would have been difficult for them to win.
"In those conditions you could have got a wicket at any stage. It was difficult batting, Tim Ambrose came off and said he was finding it difficult to see the ball the over before [the end] because the rain was coming into the players' eyes as well as it being dark. It wasn't easy for anyone out there but everyone wanted to play the game.
"We saw at Napier on what was regarded as a flat wicket that Luke Wright defended six [runs in the final over] so when the pressure is on and it comes down to one over, it is not an assumed that you are going to win. Yes, NZ were in a strong position but it was a proper game of cricket with both sides getting stuck in.
"It is a shame for the fans and a really tough decision for the umpires to make that call but it did start to rain very heavily during the last over. They had talked before that over and the question is would it have been a proper result for either team if conditions were completely unfit for cricket."
"What I don't like is people saying we didn't want to play – we are playing good cricket at the moment, playing well in pressure situations and we are happy to get stuck in and have a go. We wanted to play and get 2-0 up in the series."
England will monitor the fitness of Ryan Sidebottom and Alastair Cook, both of whom have recently had anti-inflammatory injections in respective back and shoulder injuries, before deciding whether to call up cover for tomorrow's third NatWest Series match in Bristol.
The selectors will be reluctant to rush either player's return before the coming Test series against South Africa.