Opening ODI washed out

  • Last Updated: August 24 2012, 18:16 BST

England's hopes of exacting revenge against their Test conquerors South Africa were frustrated as the first match of their NatWest one-day series was washed out with less than half-an-hour's play possible in Cardiff.

  • Just 5.3 overs were bowled at Cardiff
  • The groundstaff struggled to cope with the showers 
  • Ian Bell briefly impressed before the rain ended the match 

Ian Bell did his best to offer the drenched supporters some entertainment, clubbing two huge sixes on his way to 26 not out from 18 balls, but England's 37 without loss from 5.3 overs was a poor return for more than five hours of watching the skies.

The sides were contesting a reduced 23-over contest when the game was finally abandoned under the heaviest rain of the day.

Play in the first one-day international was due to begin at 10.15am and the rival captains got as far as the toss, with AB de Villiers calling correctly and opting to field.

The dark clouds above duly began to open and the start was delayed.

The umpires, Richard Kettleborough and Kumar Dharmasena, were frequent visitors to the pitch for the next few hours, inspecting conditions in the brief breaks between showers.

A handful of provisional start times - and revised playing conditions - were set and then abandoned as the rain continued to set in but spectators finally got some action when the sides took to the field at 3pm.

A 24-over match was scheduled at that point but spectators reacted with disbelief when just one delivery - a leg-side wide by Morne Morkel - was sent down before the players left the field again.

A slow handclap ensued and the delay this time lasted just 10 minutes before hostilities were resumed, this time with a further over per innings removed.

Alastair Cook failed to score off the first six legal deliveries of the game and was then close to being run out attempting a bold single when Wayne Parnell failed to hit the stumps from close range.

England managed just four runs from the first three overs but both Cook and Bell picked up boundaries in Lonwabo Tsotsobe's second over, both crisply driven to the ropes.

Cook (10no) might already have been gone after a bold single gave Parnell the chance of a run-out from mid-on. He missed from close range to reprieve the England skipper.

From there it was all about Bell.

He took a step down the track before swiping Morkel into the stands at mid-wicket for six and followed up with an even better lofted six over mid-off.

England took 16 off that fifth over to double their total and when Bell stepped outside off-stump and flicked Tsotsobe for four over short fine-leg it looked as though fireworks were imminent.

Instead, it turned out to be a damp squib as just two more balls were possible before the rain returned with vengeance.

This time the weather was heavy and locked in for a long time, leaving officials with no choice but to call a halt to proceedings.

England had earlier chosen to hand Chris Woakes his fifth ODI cap, and the first since August 25 last year, with the in-form Warwickshire all-rounder replacing the rested Stuart Broad.

Broad has been given the series off and 23-year-old Woakes got the nod ahead of Samit Patel's left-arm spin and the pace of Jade Dernbach.

South Africa's side was much-changed from the team which clinched the Test series 2-0, with only De Villiers, Hashim Amla, Graeme Smith, JP Duminy and Morne Morkel retained.

Debutant Dean Elgar was among the incoming players, alongside one-day specialists including Ryan McLaren, Robin Peterson and Faf du Plessis.

Both Albie Morkel and Dale Steyn failed fitness tests and will be monitored ahead of Tuesday's second match at Hampshire's Ageas Bowl.

Team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee said: "Albie's recurring left ankle injury is still a concern for us. We do not want to risk him by playing and would rather take the necessary precautionary measures especially with the World T20 taking place next month.

"Dale is battling with a stiff neck and will need a few days to recover from the strain.