Australia versus England – Abandoned match
Australia and England each took a point in their Group 1 game at the T20 World Cup after a wet and dangerous outfield led to their game at the MCG being abandoned. Both teams now have three points, after one win and one loss each in their first two games.
As a result, Friday’s game between these two former rivals had been billed as a ‘loser out’ encounter. Unfortunately, following rain throughout the day and intermittent showers in the evening, the referees finally decided to stop at 8:49 p.m. local time. Although well before the deadline, with the possibility of a five-a-side game provided play started at 10:04 p.m., there was no chance the ground would have dried in time given the cold evening conditions. , especially bowlers’ swings. which were of particular concern.
Torrential rain over the past two days in Melbourne meant both teams entered Friday knowing the rain would play a role. The first game of the day, between Afghanistan and Ireland, was also abandoned without the draw, so it’s no surprise that this match went the same way.
“The outfield has been soaking wet for the past two weeks, as wet as I’ve ever seen it,” Australia captain Aaron Finch said. “The run-ups and around the circle were very, very wet. It’s a matter of player safety. We saw one of the Zimbabweans fall the other day (Richard Ngarava). If you try to run there, it’s going to be a real problem.”
An inspection at 7:30 p.m. local time – 30 minutes after the scheduled start – came and went, with all but the cover on the square in place as the clouds stood momentarily. However, surface water remained a concern with the drainage system and super-soppers working overtime.
An inspection at 8:15 p.m. then gave way to one at 8:50 p.m. But before the latter took place, another downpour prompted the referees to cancel the game, sending the 30,000 supporters who braved the elements back on their way.
“Everyone was there to play, everyone was ready to go,” Finch added. “And there was a great turnout. It was disappointing not to go up, but the amount of rain that Melbourne and the east coast of Australia have had over the past two weeks has been unbelievable.”
As things stand, England move into second place in the Group 1 table thanks to their net run rate of +0.239, ahead of Ireland (who beat them on Wednesday) and Australia, who also have three points.
However, they also have the toughest run-in of the teams who could now finish on seven points, with New Zealand in Brisbane on Tuesday (where further rains are forecast) followed by Sri Lanka the following Saturday. Although two wins would probably be enough to push England into the semi-finals, Australia have games against Ireland and Afghanistan to come in which they could still improve on their -1.555 net run rate.
New Zealand, meanwhile, can afford to lose to England and still qualify if they manage to beat Sri Lanka and Ireland in their other two matches. Ireland itself and Afghanistan are still firmly in contention for the round of 16 as well, with just one point separating the six teams.
Vithushan Ehantharajah is Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo