It never rains, it pours.
The International Cricket Council must be cursing themselves for thinking that this World Cup would not have its fair share of hiccups.
The second game in a week was washed out on Monday with South Africa’s clash against the West Indies suffering the same fate as Pakistan’s match with Sri Lanka.
And with Sri Lanka’s group stage match against Bangladesh at serious risk of joining the duo - with severe rain threatening to ruin the week’s cricket - we take a look ahead to what the future holds.
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What does the ICC make of it all?
In short, they have cited serious practicality concerns in terms of reserve days.
A statement from CEO David Richardson read:
“Factoring in a reserve day for every match at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup would significantly increase the length of the tournament and practically would be extremely complex to deliver.
“It would impact pitch preparation, team recovery and travel days, accommodation and venue availability, tournament staffing, volunteer and match officials availability, broadcast logistics and very importantly the spectators who in some instances have travelled hours to be at the game. There is also no guarantee that the reserve day would be free from rain either.
“Up to 1200 people are on site to deliver a match and everything associated with it including getting it broadcast and a proportion of them are moving around the country so reserve days in the group stage would require a significant uplift in the number of staff. We have reserve days factored in for the knock-out stages, knowing that over the course of 45 group games we should play the large majority.
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“This is extremely unseasonable weather. In the last couple of days we have experienced more than twice the average monthly rainfall for June which is usually the third driest month in the UK. In 2018 there was just 2mm of rain in June but the last 24 hours alone has seen around 100mm fall in the south-east of England.
“When a match is affected by weather conditions, the venue team work closely with Match Officials and Ground Staff to ensure that we have the best possible opportunity to play cricket, even if it is a reduced overs game. We also work to keep fans in the stadium, or those travelling to the game, as up-to-date as possible with any information we have, either through public announcements or on our social media channels.”
So, what happens next?
We pray for the rain to stop. Is there such a thing as an anti-rain dance?
Assuming that does not work, you will almost certainly have worked out by now that there are no reserve days in the group stages.
If a team gets a ‘no result’ from a washout, they share one point each. Which, at this moment, could warp the standings.
Sri Lanka, for example, are yet to find their best form but could end up with the equivalent of two wins’ worth of points from three ‘games’.
How do we decide who goes through?
In terms of the group stages, there are four distinguishing factors in terms of working out a tie-break.
Number of wins is the first factor. This could come into play in the case of Sri Lanka, for example, above.
Net run rate, head-to-head results and pre-tournament seedings are, in that order, the next way of working it out.
Who goes through as it stands?
If the rest of the group stages were to be rained off - and let’s hope that proves not to be the case - the top four teams as of now will go through.
I mean, really, that would mean almost a month of straight rain. How bleak.
The top four as it stands are New Zealand, England, India and Australia. Which to a large extent is not at all surprising.
What is, perhaps, is that the Black Caps are top and unbeaten - albeit they are yet to face any of their fellow top four counterparts.
Australia’s winning run was ended by India, who are unbeaten themselves despite playing a game less.
And, of course, England’s sole defeat so far came against Pakistan.
What happens in the semi-finals?
Assuming we get to July 9 without the entire country having been flooded, the final four gives us a bit more room for manoeuvre.
For starters, there are reserve days.
And yes, I heard that collective sigh of relief.
If - and I appreciate we’re getting a bit doomsday here - the reserve days are ended by rain, well we have a problem.
But the finalists would then be decided by the league positioning. So it turns out finishing first and second could be more important than first imagined.
What happens for the final?
Reserve days! Hoorah!
We are blessed to have a backup plan for the showpiece event at Lord’s on July 14.
But, unlike the semi-finals, we don’t really have a contingency plan beyond that.
Indeed, if both days are rained off and we don’t get the overs in to qualify for a match, we get the horror of a shared trophy.
So, there’s that.
Look at the bright side; if it rains permanently between now and July 14, England will have won the World Cup!
Of course, they will share it with leaders New Zealand. Well played, everyone.
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