New Zealand warm-up abandoned over unfit pitch after record stand


New Zealand’s final warm-up match against Cricket Australia XI was abandoned Friday because of concerns over the state of the pitch — after the home team smashed a record 503 for one.

Stumps were drawn by the umpires during the lunch interval on day two of the three-day game at Blacktown, Sydney when the CA XI declared their first innings after losing just one wicket.

The Black Caps had been due to bat in reply in their final build-up game ahead of the first Test against Australia, starting in Brisbane on November 5.

The highly unusual abandonment seriously disrupts New Zealand’s preparations for the Test series opener, with last-minute arrangements now being made to give them extra practice.

Cricket Australia (CA) said both teams had agreed to abandon the match because of the rapidly deteriorating pitch.

“The decision has been agreed between the two teams to abandon the match due to the wicket’s deteriorating surface becoming unfit for first-class cricket,” said CA’s head of cricket operations Sean Cary.

“Preparation of the wicket was compromised by poor weather conditions in Sydney early this week.

“In response, we’re working with New Zealand Cricket to provide alternative preparation for the team ahead of next week’s first Test.”

The CA XI declared their first innings shortly before lunch after the 503 between Aaron Finch, 288 not out, and Ryan Carters (209) set an Australian record for a first-class match opening partnership.

The stand surpassed the previous record of 456 set in the 1923-24 season by Victoria’s Bill Ponsford and Edgar Mayne against Queensland at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The tour match was originally scheduled as a four-day fixture before it was reduced to three days earlier this week so New Zealand could travel to Brisbane for the first Test earlier than originally planned.

All but one Black Caps player, wicketkeeper BJ Watling, bowled in the 121-over innings as Finch and Carters blazed away.

Star New Zealand quick Tim Southee bowled only three overs in the innings due to a stomach complaint, while no New Zealand seamer bowled on day two as concerns over the state of the pitch mounted.