England thwarted by rainy conditions as crunch Australia clash is abandoned

England’s bid to revitalise their T20 World Cup campaign was thwarted by rain and a saturated outfield as the crunch clash against Australia was abandoned without a ball being bowled.

Persistent showers at the MCG had washed out Friday’s earlier game between Ireland and Afghanistan and it seemed an identical fate would befall the Ashes rivals in their probable Super 12s eliminator.

While the rain abated just after a scheduled 7pm (9am UK) start time, the heavy downpours in Melbourne over the past couple of days had left the ground sodden and clear-up efforts proved to be in vain.

An initial inspection was held at 7.30pm (9.30am) before a follow-up 45 minutes later which led to, rather farcically, another examination, the announcement of which was greeted by jeers from the crowd.

Even though only five overs per side were needed to constitute a game, there were clear concerns about how safe it was underfoot for the players, and particularly the bowlers running in.

However, any worries were moot as another brief shower under the floodlights meant hands were shaken at 8.50pm (10.50am) on a frustrating night where both sides walked away with a point.

England will not look back fondly on their time in Melbourne as, having beaten Afghanistan at Perth, they suffered a shock five-run defeat against Ireland, with Wednesday’s finale shortened by a deluge.

Hosts and defending champions Australia had also won and lost once so another setback for either side would likely have ended their hopes of reaching the semi-finals via a top-two finish in their group.

England’s Moeen Ali is interviewed under rainy conditions
England’s Moeen Ali was interviewed under rainy conditions ahead of the original scheduled start time (Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AP)

While this was far from a satisfactory outcome, both nations live to fight another day, with Australia taking on Ireland at Brisbane on Monday with England facing New Zealand at the same venue a day later.

The group remains wide open but England have a favourable net run-rate which leaves them second heading into their final two games against the Kiwis before heading to Sydney to play Sri Lanka next Saturday.

Ahead of the abandonment being announced, all-rounder Ben Stokes said: “The way the weather is, it is going to be like playing a final every game.

“That is what these competitions are about, you are always under pressure to perform. I think we’ll be looking forward to the next two games.”