“The worst Cricket World Cup in history” – read a tweet from a social media user from India after the ICC World Cup 2019 game between India and New Zealand was abandoned due to persistent rains at Nottingham.
While the comment might seem like an exaggeration to many, the fact is that now as many as four games have been abandoned due to rain in the ongoing World Cup – three of those have been without a single ball being bowled and without even the toss being conducted. And this has happened with only 18 games having been officially completed so far.
World Cup 2019 now holds the record for being the first edition to have the most abandoned matches in World Cup history. The rage of the fans is hence wholly understandable. Apart from the India-New Zealand tie, the other games that have been abandoned due to rain in this World Cup are between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies, and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Irate fans of the teams that have affected have taken over social media to express their frustration and concern. The general sentiment appears to be that the ICC goofed up by scheduling the World Cup at this time of the year in England. Another point that has come across is that there should have been reserve days for all the league games given the unpredictable weather in England. This edition only has reserve days from the semi-final stage onward.
The ICC had issued a statement earlier this week, stating that having reserve days for all the league games would have made the tournament much longer than it already is and it would also not have been feasible logistics-wise to do so. But then, the 1999 World Cup was also held in England at around the same time. That edition did have reserve days for league games, and a few matches that were affected due to rain midway were continued to the next day.
Why couldn’t the ICC do the same this time?
Also, it is now a universal fact that June and July are very unpredictable in England. Why wasn’t the World Cup shifted to July-August, which is a proper summer phase in the UK? But the ECB has already organized their much-awaited Ashes in that slot. Isn’t that unfair? Shouldn’t the World Cup have been getting more precedence here? And if the ECB was so adamant about having the Ashes in its summer months, then why let them host the World Cup at all? After all, England has already hosted the ODI World Cup four times before this. Surely a venue like South Africa or even the West Indies could have been selected too.
What is utterly shambolic is that the ECB doesn’t have covers that can shield the entire ground during rains – they are only covering the pitch and its surrounding areas. Even countries like Sri Lanka and India have shown the way in the recent past by using large covers that blanket the entire ground in case of rains. That has already saved quite a few matches. If grounds from the sub-continent can do it, then why has the ECB not invested in those covers in such a prestigious tournament? That alone could have saved a couple of games already.
One hopes that the rain relents and fans get to witness full games now in the remaining matches in the World Cup. Because ultimately fans, who have waited excitedly for four years for this tournament, are being robbed off entertainment and the ODI format is suffering because of some callousness and lack of proper foresight by the panjandrums of the game.