Nottingham, June 14: The only way any play could have been possible at Trent Bridge on Thursday (June 13) was if the sun had shone all night, and there hadn’t been a drop of precipitation on match day. With the first event an impossibility and the second not transpiring, India and New Zealand were forced to split points, leaving them both still the only undefeated sides in the World Cup.
One of the worst aspects of being at a cricket ground on a day such as this is the ennui and the long, fruitless wait for the inevitable. Everyone knows what the final outcome is going to be, but there are protocols to be followed and eventualities to be considered, therefore abandoning play early around spells of light showers is a tough call to make.
Umpires Marais Erasmus and Paul Reiffel made the trek from their room to the middle no less than six times. On each occasion, they were greeted with loud cheers by the optimists who braved the elements and stayed put at a gloomy, dank Trent Bridge. Each time, they went away unsatisfied at the underfoot conditions, every inspection from 9.30 am followed by news of another inspection an hour later. Finally, a little after 3.00 pm, they put an end to the artificial suspense by announcing the abandonment of play, the third no-result in four days this week.
With the rain beating a gentle but steady tattoo on an already saturated playing arena, the options available to those at the venue are minimal. R Sridhar, the Indian fielding coach who likened the outfield to a skating rink, provided an insight into how his wards spend the time striking a balance between easing the mind and making sure that they aren’t so relaxed that as and when play does start, they find it difficult to put their game face on.
“It is frustrating to wait in the dressing room on a rainy day,” admitted the former Hyderabad left-arm spinner. “It's a challenge for the players and the support staff to switch down but not really switch off, because the match could start at any time, so you keep yourself prepared in the back of the mind. At the same time, you try not to think too much about the game and keep yourself a little busy, reading, some music, or chatting with friends. But we deal with it all the time.”
Sridhar as well as Gary Stead, the New Zealand coach, reflected on the general helplessness in such situations. “It would have been lovely to lay,” Stead said. “It's always tough mentally on a day like this, when you come down prepared to play and it doesn't happen. But it's out of our control, we can't really do much about it.”
The wet weather of the last few days has come as a huge dampener just when the World Cup was beginning to take off with a string of close and exciting encounters. In 11 previous editions of the tournament, only two games had previously been abandoned without a ball being bowled; Thursday’s damp squib has made it the third match this year that the rival captains haven’t been able to go out for the toss. Allied with Tuesday’s game between South Africa and Windies in Southampton which had to be called off after just 7.3 overs, the number of no-results in 2019 has already touched four in only 18 games, twice as many as in any previous World Cup.
However, there is still plenty of leeway for affected teams. A point lost in a four-team league might have proved critical, as history will testify, but in this tournament where all teams are slated to play nine games each in the round-robin league phase, the occasional washout is unlikely to have a telling impact.
Of course, the pitch will be queered if the rains don’t let up and more and more games are consigned to washouts. That is no more than an outside possibility; the prediction is for the weather to clear up substantially as the tournament slips into next week, which is something the event organisers and everyone else associated with it is desperately hoping comes true.
(R Kaushik is a cricket writer who has followed the sport closely for nearly three decades, and is covering his seventh World Cup)