Rain, an unfortunate equaliser that can be cruel to the best and a friend to the worst. The current Champions Trophy in England has seen its fair share of rain, with the Australia vs New Zealand match washed out and the West Indies vs South Africa match reduced to a 31-over per side encounter.
The current match between England and New Zealand has been delayed due to rain, and should the rain let up, then the match could turn out to be a 20-20 encounter. Fair? Perhaps, but since this is a 50-over tournament, a reserve day should always be set aside for these eventualities. Reserve days have been set aside for the semi-finals and final but with a shortened tournament as this is, any rain affected match could ruin a form team’s chances of making it through to the knock-out stages.
South Africa have more often than not been on the receiving end of rain affected matches, most famously in the 1992 World Cup semi-final against England. South Africa were up against it, but felt that they could overcome the run rate and secure victory and reach the final. South Africa needed to score at around a run-a-ball when the players left the field. As the rain teemed down, the balls remaining reduced, but the runs required did not, and when the teams returned to the field, South Africa needed to score 22 runs off one delivery.
In 2003, South Africa were knocked out against Sri Lanka, needing to beat the Islanders to stand a chance of making the next round, but ‘mis-read’ the Duckworth/Lewis scoresheet and landed up drawing the match, which put them out.
For the first time in living memory, South Africa were on the correct side of Messers Duckworth and Lewis when the the West Indies lost a wicket with the final ball before the players were taken off the field by the umpires, which ended the game in a tie. This meant that the Proteas went through to the semi-finals as runners-up in the group, having a better net run rate than the West Indies. Cruel you might say, but from a South African point of view, a timeous victory against the weather-gods!
The West Indies were not good against India, and secured a victory against a very poor Pakistan side, so you might say that the better side went through. South Africa did lose to India but the resistance that Ryan McLaren and the injured Morne Morkel put up in batting out their 50 overs, reduced the victory margin and helped their net run rate substantially. A better performance against Pakistan meant that their match against the West Indies was effectively, a quarter-final.
There will never be a perfect answer to weather in cricket, unless every country produces closed-roof stadiums, but doesn’t that take away the factor that weather has on a pitch and swing conditions? A captain has always had to think tactically, and that includes outsmarting the weather gods. But sometimes, just sometimes, mother-nature says “I have had enough of sport for one day, and I need a rest.”