Rain washes out first day of Test

DAMP SQUIB::Players and spectators alike were denied any cricket action yesterday, while England’s Graeme Swann had to throw in the towel because of an old injury

AP, DUNEDIN, New Zealand

Thu, Mar 07, 2013 - Page 19

The first day of the opening Test between New Zealand and England was abandoned because of rain without a ball being bowled yesterday, as off-spinner Graeme Swann flies to the US for surgery.

New Zealand won the toss and chose to bowl in heavily overcast conditions, before umpires Paul Reiffel of Australia and Asad Rauf of Pakistan ruled that the light was too bad to allow play to begin on time.

Heavy rain then began to fall at the University Oval, forcing ground staff to fully cover the pitch and surrounds. The rain continued throughout the day, preventing play in the first two sessions and causing the umpires to abandon the day just 75 minutes before scheduled stumps.

Playing hours are to be extended on the remaining days to make up for lost time and only 30 overs are likely to be lost if a full days’ play is possible on each of the next four days.

Earlier, Swann was ruled out of the three-Test series in New Zealand with an elbow injury, with the England team saying he will fly to the US for surgery. Monty Panesar was named in his place.

The 33-year-old Swann underwent an operation in 2009 to remove bone fragments from his right elbow and his new procedure will likely sideline him until early in the northern hemisphere summer. The first Test of England’s Ashes series against Australia is scheduled to be played at Nottingham, England, from July 10.

Swann had previously announced in his regular newspaper column that after England’s Test warm-up match against a New Zealand XI his elbow was causing “discomfort.”

“I’ll be honest, the elbow is always a concern,” Swann said in the Sun. “It’s been hanging over me for several years and, despite having an operation in 2009, the problem hasn’t entirely gone away.”

“It would be a massive pain in the backside if my wonky elbow forced me to miss any of the Tests against Australia. I’m absolutely determined to be available for what might be my final two Ashes series and that means managing the elbow as well as possible,” he said.

New Zealand named opening batsman Hamish Rutherford, son of former captain Ken Rutherford, and left-arm spinner Bruce Martin to make their Test debuts yesterday.

The 32-year-old Martin was first named in a New Zealand Test squad in 1999, but did not play and has had to wait a further 14 years for his Test debut.