Two, yes first time in the history of World Cup, two straight games called off due to rain. Never before more than two matches were washed out in all World Cups combined, but this time, already three games have been called off either due to rain or wet outfield.
There had previously only been two complete abandonments (without a toss) in the history of the tournament – in 1992 and 2003.
The current World Cup edition is just 14 days old, and there are still 32 days of cricket left. It is a bit strange of ICC to not have reserve days for World Cup matches despite knowing that the English summers are mostly wet. The ICC takes into account statistical rainfall when creating its schedule.
The world cup is held every four years, and the ICC has been very unprofessional in terms of scheduling it without reserve days.
ICC CEO Dave Richardson (also former wicket-keeper from South Africa) said in a press release that the reserve days would have increased the length of the World Cup and there is no guarantee of rain-free reserve days.
“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.” said Dave Richardson
The last world cup with reserve days was held in 2007 in the Carribean islands. Last time England hosted the World Cup was in 1999, and it too had reserved days keeping the rain in mind.
Richardson further said, “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 knockout stages, knowing that throughout 45 group games we should play the large majority.”
More than a billion people watching this mega event, and ICC is more worried about 1200 extra men working for some 45 days. The reputation of cricket is already at stake as the World Cup is reduced from 14 teams to 10 teams this year.
Instead of focusing on the standard of umpiring and organizing a World Cup in the best possible way, it seems ICC seems more concerned about useless things.
It is also interesting to know that in World Cup 1999, a total number of 39 matches (Group and Super 6) were completed in 31 days with a reserve day for each game. The current World Cup edition has 45 group stage matches which will be completed in 38 days without reserve days for any of the game. The only relief is for the semi-finals and final, which got reserve days.
All previous 4 World Cups held in England got over by the end of June, this will be the first time a world cup match to be played in July. Last year was the driest English summer since 1976. With an increase in global warming, the weather is getting warmer and wetter compared to previous years. On average, there is a minimum of 3 days of rain in June, July, and August every year.
Sri Lanka is the only team that seems to be benefited from the rain. They lost the first match against New Zealand and were on the verge of losing against Afghanistan. However, they gained 1 point each from their washout games against Pakistan and Bangladesh. Both the teams had upper hand against Sri Lanka, on paper and current form and it is amusing to see Sri Lanka placed in a better position in the points table.
South Africa has a long history of their world cup campaign being affected by the rain. They had been knocked out of World Cup in 1992, 2003 and 2015 but are sitting at number 9 in the points table with 1 point, thanks to the rain. However, this will not help their cause to reach the top 4 in the points table as they have to win more matches than sharing points due to weather conditions.
The top four teams, New Zealand, India, Australia, and England, have not faced the weather issue. However, the weather forecast for the next few days doesn’t look promising at all. Rain is expected to play a significant role in Taunton, Nottingham, and Southampton where these 4 top teams are going to play their next games.
The next World Cup is set to be played in India (Feb-Mar 2023) in the rain-free season. England will get a chance to host another World Cup (most probably) in the year 2039 and who knows by then ICC will show some common sense and move the World Cup out of England.
Cricket enthusiast, Tendulkar fan and a traveler !