The second inconvenient truth is that this World Cup should have been booked for the height of the Australian summer, with an extended break from the national squad and far less adverse conditions. This is, unfortunately, where self-interest prevails.
Australia has no interest in granting prime-time seating at the ‘G’, world cricket’s most cavernous amphitheater, to visiting nations who can only occupy a tiny fraction of the space. His authorities would much rather make his own T20 competition, the Big Bash, the centerpiece of the sporting summer.
England, it must be said, can hardly be absolved of blame on this front. Ludicrously, the Ashes, the greatest Test series of all, was inelegant next year in June and July. The fourth Test at Old Trafford must therefore compete directly with The Open at Hoylake, just 50 miles further on. The proof ? This August, the Ashes’ usual showcase, is to be left free for England & Wales Cricket Board’s beloved concoction, The Hundred. This is just another example of flamboyant artifice destroying sacred traditions.
The primacy of the domestic T20 over all other planning considerations creates logistical nonsense everywhere. And yet, by relegating the World Cup to a glorified Big Bash warm-up, Australia face the humiliating idea that the final might not be contested at all.
You can feel the players’ frustration, who yearn for and deserve the best showcase possible, seething near the surface. “If you have multiple games affected by the weather,” admitted Jos Buttler, usually an optimistic soul, “you don’t have such a true reflection of how you hoped the tournament would go.”
For Buttler and his teammates, a group stage match against Australia at the MCG should have been a career highlight. Instead, they gloomily paced a waterlogged outfield behind their locker room windows, wondering why a summer sport was taking place in colder and wetter conditions than in Inverness.
That it happened once could be considered a misfortune. After all, the Melburnian climate is temperamental at the best of times. But for England to go through the same sinister ritual again, a fortnight later? This is pure negligence on the part of the organizers.
There should always be a backup plan for matches of this magnitude. The International Cricket Council made some adjustments to try to allow the final to go ahead, granting four extra hours on Monday for the match to be completed, while shifting the scheduled start time of the reserve day to 3 p.m. A look at the radar, however, suggests La Niña may have the last laugh.
That would count, given that Australia has a state-of-the-art inland alternative just two miles around the corner, as an unforgivable failure of foresight.
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