19.06.2019 Author: C.NAMASIVAYAMSince the commencement of World Cup 2019, the talk around the town is all about the inclement weather and the untimely injuries to key players. Unfortunately for the players, both these factors are uncontrollable. The rain and the resultant washouts have thrown all the pre-tournament predictions out of the window.
This World Cup has so far seen the highest number of washouts in a single World Cup tournament. At the time of writing, 4 matches have been totally washed out. In two other matches, due to weather interference, targets were revised as per D/L method.
Australia, England and Afghanistan were the only 3 teams who were not hit by the no-result syndrome so far. Sri Lanka were the worst affected team when 2 of their matches against Pakistan and Bangladesh were abandoned without a ball bowled.
The Indians were involved in one washout game against New Zealand and one truncated game against Pakistan. Thankfully for the organizers, broadcasters, and viewers, the much-hyped India-Pakistan clash happened with the loss of a mere 10 overs. However, to the dismay of the Pakistan fans, it was the same old story this time around too.
It is quite unfortunate that such a big tournament is being dictated by the weather gods. Of course, no one can have any control over nature, but with a little bit of human planning, the impact of natural calamities could be minimized. But for that to happen in a cash-rich sport like cricket, a lot of commercial compromises will have to be made. In the present scenario, the commercial benefits surrounding the game, though incidental, dictate the very conduct of the game.
In order to arrive at a viable alternative itinerary which would mitigate the influence the inclement weather has on the game, an open-minded approach is the need of the hour. This might disrupt all logistic arrangements of a big tournament like the World Cup. But it would also give an opportunity for the players to play and the spectators to watch more of these high profile games.
The instant solution to keep weather interference away from cricket would be to play the game indoors, as already experimented in Melbourne. But we are a long way away from understanding the nuances of playing cricket as an indoor game. Perhaps one might come across this innovation in World Cup 2027.
In the present situation, the general consensus is that if there are reserve days for the league matches, a proper result could be possible for each game. But what is preventing this from happening is the logistical and telecast concerns. These are basically man-made problems for which there should be man-made solutions.
Logistical and Telecast issuesTo facilitate more play without upsetting the logistical and telecast issues much, the ICC could look to schedule two matches in two different opposite venues in a day, one a day match and another a day-night match, followed by a reserve day. On the reserve day, no other match should be scheduled.
The reserve day should be exclusively used for the start or for the continuation of the two matches scheduled for the previous day. If both the matches are completed on the first day, then there will be no matches on the reserve day, which can be a welcome break for the players and of course for the viewers. By scheduling two matches in a day with a reserve day, there would be no overrun of the tournament duration and the tournament could be completed as per the original schedule.
The only problem the viewers would face in watching two matches in a day would be the overlapping of one session of play. The second session of the first match would overlap with the first session of the second match, and the viewers would be in a dilemma as to which match to follow.
This problem could be addressed to a certain extent by starting the day-night match a little later and scheduling that match with the presence of one weaker team like Afghanistan. That way the ICC could get some of the inconsequential matches or matches which generate lesser interest among the viewers done with.
Scheduling MatchesThe scheduling of two matches in a day would ensure that the spectators get to witness some action on any given match day. With 10 participating teams, it would be much easier to shuffle and re-shuffle teams with an adequate break in between matches to arrive at the final itinerary.
The arguments placed against having a reserve day would be what if the reserve day too is washed out or if both the venues are affected by dicey weather for two consecutive days. If that is what is destined to happen, so be it.
A reserve day would certainly give an additional opportunity for the match to happen, and if that opportunity is also taken away by the weather gods, there's nothing anybody can really do. After all, one can’t have a reserve day for a reserve day.
Another relevant point is that compared to the other countries, matches played in England are more influenced by rough weather. In other places, weather interference won’t be a major issue and hence there is no necessity for a more elaborate arrangement to combat the weather. Since the ongoing World Cup is played in England, a pragmatic and customized solution is required.
No team would like to split points or play a truncated match in an important tournament like the World Cup. The shortened games normally reduce the gap between the stronger and weaker teams, and sometimes it becomes a bit of a lottery. Teams would suffer a lot if matches are abandoned at the business end of the tournament. The unfortunate losers will have to wait for another 4 years for the next World Cup to happen.
To overcome the situation of washouts and truncated matches in places like England, the ICC should come up with some novel ideas, perhaps on the above lines. It is time now for the administrators of the game to start playing to the gallery.