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Proteas frustrated by summer showers

South Africa's journey to the north-east was wasted when their T20 match against England was called off yon Tuesday, more than 24 hours before the start of today's game.

There's been a low-pressure zone squatting in this region - and much of the country, including flood-hit Northern Ireland - for the past week and it has been raining almost non-stop. Durham's four-day match against Nottinghamshire at the Riverside ground last week was called off without a ball being bowled.

On Tuesday morning there were big pools of water on the outfield and South Africa's coach, Mickey Arthur, pointed out that neither he nor his team had even seen the pitch, much less practised outdoors, since they arrived here on Sunday.

Match referee Roshan Mahanama consulted the Riverside grounds staff on Tuesday afternoon and they quickly bowed to the inevitable.

This means that the South Africans will leave for Leeds on Wednesday where they will hope for better weather as they prepare for Friday's first one-day international at Headingley, the scene of their first victory in the Test series last month.

The Proteas have at least had two warm-up matches against the England Lions in Leicester and Derby on Thursday and Saturday last week. England, by contrast, had their only preparation - Monday's match against Scotland in Edinburgh - rained out after they had dismissed the Scots for 156. England were only able to bat for 2.3 overs before heavy rain drove the players from the field.

South Africa left out the Morkel brothers from the team scheduled to play - Albie was still suffering from a ligament sprain in his right shoulder and Morne picked up a slight side strain during the match at Derby.

Arthur said that it was not worth risking either player for the game because his team's primary concern was to prepare for Friday's match.

Underlying his remarks was the feeling that the South Africans were not taking the T20 match particularly seriously.

Arthur denied this, saying: "It was rather a question of using this match to sharpen our one-day skills. We never saw this game as the start of the limited-overs series, but as a one-off."

He said the focus for the shortest form of the game should be at domestic level.

"At that level, I think it could become the lifeblood of the game... There is a real danger that Twenty20 could be overexposed at international level which would take the gloss off the game at domestic level."

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