Opening day's play washed out

Opening day's play washed out

Persistent rain forced the abandonment of the first day's play of the first cricket Test between New Zealand and England at Dunedin's University Oval on Wednesday.

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum had won the toss and asked England to bat in overcast conditions and gloomy light but umpires Asad Rauf and Paul Reiffel took a reading before play was due to start at 10:30 (21:30 GMT) and delayed the start.
Strong southerly winds then brought driving rain over the ground with spectators scrambling for cover or seeking shelter outside the small ground adjacent to the city's university.

Ground staff had said they would need two hours to prepare the ground for play once it stopped raining but intermittent showers forced the umpires to abandon the day's play at about 16:15 (03:15 GMT).

New Zealand's Metservice has forecast fine weather for Thursday but showers are expected over the remaining three days.

Left arm spinner Bruce Martin will make his New Zealand debut at the age of 32 when play eventually starts after McCullum opted to go with three frontline pace bowlers.

Opening batsman Hamish Rutherford will also make his debut and join Peter Fulton at the top of the order. Ian Butler, who had been brought in for the injured Doug Bracewell, is the 12th man.

Swann ruled out

England earlier suffered a blow with offspinner Graeme Swann ruled out of the Test series due to a lingering elbow injury that flared up in the tourists' match against the New Zealand XI in Queenstown last week.

The 33-year-old will have surgery on his right elbow next week in the United States with the hope of being fit for England's hectic schedule later in the year.  Left arm spinner Monty Panesar replaced Swann in the line-up.