Australia v New Zealand: Sydney's 'jigsaw' pitch ruins warm-up game

The pitch at Blacktown, Sydney which caused New Zeland's tour match to be abandoned
New Zealand's fixture at the Blacktown International Sports Park had originally been scheduled for four days
Tour match, Sydney (Blacktown International Sports Park), day two:
Cricket Australia XI 503-1 dec: Finch 288 not out, Carters 209
New Zealand: Did not bat
Match abandoned as a draw (unfit wicket)
Scorecard (external site)external-link

New Zealand's preparations for the first Test of their forthcoming series against Australia were left in bits after they were obliged to play on a pitch described as "a jigsaw puzzle with half the pieces missing".

Fielding first against a Cricket Australia XI, New Zealand bowled their entire side bar wicketkeeper BJ Watling on day one, but captain Brendon McCullum refused to use any of his seamers on day two for fear of causing injury.

Opening pair Ryan Carters and Aaron Finch showed no such delicacy as they smashed an Australian record opening partnership of 503 in 121 overs.

But the state of the wicket at Sydney's Blacktown International Sports Park was deemed so bad that the tour match was abandoned on day two - leaving the Kiwis half-baked in their build-up to the first match of the three-Test series in Brisbane on 5 November.

New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said: "They're unable to grow any grass here at this time of the year so it was basically like rolled mud with a little topping on it.

"As it dried it baked and bits started falling out of it.

Scoreboard for Cricket Australia XI v New Zealand
The scoreboard in the abandoned tour game

"Once you start taking hunks out of the surface that's when it becomes unsuitable.

"I'd describe it as a jigsaw with half the pieces missing."

The scarred pitch - deemed unsafe for batting - was left looking like the surface of the moon and Cricket Australia admitted the deteriorating surface had become unfit for first-class cricket.

CA's head of operations Sean Cary said: "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."

Finch and Carters eclipsed the previous Australian record opening stand of 456 set by Ernie Mayne and Bill Ponsford for Victoria in 1923-24.

Finch hit an unbeaten 288 and Carters 209 before the latter's dismissal prompted an early lunch and an even earlier finish.

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