New Zealand's cricketers continue to raise their eyebrows at the special treatment dished out to England's serial stump-kicker Steven Finn.
The lanky quick bowler was at it again in the Twenty20 opener in Auckland on Saturday night, knocking the stumps with his leg in delivery stride with the third ball he bowled.
It was hit for four by New Zealand opener Hamish Rutherford, and Finn did not transgress again as he took an impressive 3-39, including the key wickets of Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor, in England's 40-run win.
Finn's habit prompted a rule clarification from the International Cricket Council before the series. A bowler is allowed to disturb the stumps once without sanction, then all subsequent deliveries are deemed dead ball. So, having used his one legitimate delivery, any boundaries hit when Finn kicks the stumps will not be recognised for the rest of the T20 series.
The New Zealand players grumbled when they were denied a boundary and seven runs in total off Finn during their World T20 defeat in Sri Lanka in September.
Ian Butler, a former Otago team-mate of Finn's, was not impressed yesterday.
Both sides were informed of the ICC rule clarification by match referee Roshan Mahanama on the eve of Saturday's opener.
Butler felt that wickets and runs should both be permitted despite the stumps being disturbed in a bowler's stride.
"Play should just continue. It's not the batter's fault that he hits the stumps," Butler said.
"I know [South African skipper] Graeme Smith made a big issue of it but that was more to get under his [Finn's] skin. It certainly doesn't distract the batter. I don't think you'd be watching the stumps when they let go of it from 20-feet high."
In September, then-New Zealand captain Ross Taylor said if the stumps were disturbed in delivery stride, a wicket should be ruled out but any runs allowed.
"I disagree with the rule. It's a rule for one person in particular. Unless the batsman gets out you should just carry on," Taylor said after New Zealand's defeat to England.
Finn's issue, which seems to arise from a wobbly side-to-side stride when he approaches the crease, is being worked on at length by England's bowling coach David Saker.
Still, New Zealand require more than a Finn off-day to draw level in the three-match series.
Their fielding and bowling need big improvements after they conceded 214-7, including 15 sixes, on Eden Park, and shelled five catches.
Butler insisted that was an aberration.
"Twenty20 is a game where one or two players can take the game away. We know that and we've got as many match-winners as they do.
"The margin isn't relevant considering how badly we played. You will never see us drop five catches again, I hope, and with the quality of bowlers we've got I don't think we'll stray from the plans to the same level. They played really well but we can do a lot better."
Butler said the team prided itself on its fielding, and it was purely an issue with how low the lights were in Auckland.
"I know from personal experience fielding at Eden Park under those lights is a nightmare, and I've seen countless catches dropped there."
Butler, assuming he is not troubled by his injured ankle, will add starch to the bowling, probably at Andrew Ellis' expense.
Fellow all-rounder Grant Elliott is also a chance of playing, which would mean either spinner Ronnie Hira or Colin Munro dropping out.
HOW THEY LINE UP
What: New Zealand v England, second Twenty20 international
Where: Seddon Park, Hamilton
When: 7pm tonight, live on Sky Sport 1
TAB odds: England $1.65, NZ $2.15
New Zealand (from): Martin Guptill, Hamish Rutherford, Brendon McCullum (captain), Ross Taylor, Colin Munro, Grant Elliott, James Franklin, Andrew Ellis, Ian Butler, Nathan McCullum, Roneel Hira, Trent Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan.
England (from): Michael Lumb, Alex Hales, Luke Wright, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Samit Patel, Stuart Broad (captain), James Tredwell, Steve Finn, Jade Dernbach, Joe Root, Chris Woakes, Danny Briggs, Stuart Meaker, James Harris.
Umpires: Gary Baxter (NZ), Derek Walker (NZ).
Third umpire: Chris Gaffaney (NZ).
- The Dominion Post