DURBAN - A re-laid outfield was a factor in two full days of play being lost in the first Test between South Africa and New Zealand at Kingsmead, Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat admitted on Monday.

The fourth day was called off on Monday because of a wet outfield, with the umpires deciding soft, yielding conditions would be dangerous for players.  It was the second successive day on which no play was possible despite no rain falling during playing hours. No play had taken place since rain fell during the lunch break on the second day on Saturday, when New Zealand were on 15 for two in reply to South Africa's first innings total of 263. Rain continued throughout the rest of Saturday and into early Sunday morning. Lorgat said the Kingsmead outfield had been re-laid following complaints by players when a Twenty20 international and a one-day international were played at the ground in August 2015, also involving New Zealand. "Following our first experience during August last year and the feedback received from both teams, we re-laid the outfield to make it more suitable for Test match cricket," said Lorgat.

"However, the unseasonal rain at this time of year impacted our preparations of the newly laid outfield. The flood conditions more than a month ago affected the de-compacting process."  Lorgat did not comment on the timing of the work on the ground, which happened in June, but said similar work at SuperSport Park in Centurion, venue of the second and final Test starting on Saturday, had been successful.

"It was re-laid by 'over-seeding' it with a winter grass and the results have been impressive," he said. With the first Test seemingly doomed to end in a draw, the series will hinge on the Centurion Test. "It is most unfortunate and certainly beyond our control that the heavy unseasonal rains in Durban impacted our plans," said Lorgat. "We are sympathetic to the efforts of all the ground staff who have tried their level best to ensure match readiness despite the adverse weather conditions leading into this Test match."