Rain shambles could spoil an excellent tournament

2012-09-28 00:00

SCHEDULING and organisation have never been the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) strongest point.

As shown in the Twenty20 (T20) World Cup this past week, rain might have a big say.

I cannot see ICC tournaments ever plummeting to the depths seen at the 2003 and 2007 world cups. Yes, there have been mismatches, but since a T20 match spans three-and-a-half-hours, that is more palatable.

Fifty-over affairs are more akin to watching paint dry, with the result long decided.

I’m not the biggest fan of the shortest format. For someone my age — in their early twenties — I was weaned on the longest format and would go for Test cricket and four-day cricket any day. However, beggars can’t be choosers, so we have to play the cards we are dealt.

The T20 World Cup is the aces in the World Cricket pack and for a change, the Proteas breezed through their group, which is not necessarily a good thing.

It takes my muggy memory back to the 1996 World Cup, where a rusty middle order was ambushed by an angry West Indian side, who themselves had been surprised by Kenya.

With the rotating middle order experimenting like a screw that was tightened too far, that lesson seems to have been learnt, but how SA fare in this tournament will be another story for another day.

After all, they still need to negotiate a spicy and tricky Pakistan side and an Australian eleven who have more shades of grey than the book.

That leads to the late September, early October hosting of this showpiece. I don’t think it is the best piece of timing.

Not that the ICC has hit too many from the middle of the bat, but to “South Africanise” the situation, it is basically hosting a cricket tournament in Cape Town between June and September, without the cold north westerly and the big freeze that accompanies it.

Yes, I do blame them, but with its affiliates having different seasons where they can maximise their daylight hours, they have been pigeonholed into a difficult corner.

Unlike its rugby and soccer counterparts, who have certain windows in which they can host their tournaments, except for the Confederation of African Football, who love their Christmas pudding so much they van only staging the continental showpiece in January, the ICC cannot have a set hosting timetable and nor will its affiliates give it breathing space to host in their respective peak seasons.

Except for West Indies, who in 2007 did not have much of a choice in hosting the 50-over version in its driest time of the year, ICC matches are often shoe-horned at the sprightly beginnings or at the fag ends of exhausting seasons.

In South Africa, it would be either green tracks coupled with inclement early spring conditions veering from hot to frigid with storms in-between or tired pitches with early sunsets and chilly nights. England would have even more extremes.

In Sri Lanka unfortunately, it is monsoon season and as well as the Sri Lankan authorities do their best in covering the full grounds to compensate for the inadequate drainage, matches will be washed out.

A lesson accrued in 2002 when the Champions Trophy final between Sri Lanka and India in the selfsame country fell victim to the north-wester.

This could impact on several key matches, but then again, there has to be a big gun that falls foul of the conditions before there could be change.

Let’s just hope the curse that befell the Proteas in Sydney and Durban does not resurface.

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