WTC final: Gavaskar questions lack of full covering on England grounds after day one wash-out

The question, like a couple of years earlier during the ICC World Cup when also some matches were affected by rain, is why was the ground only partially covered and not fully covered, especially when it is common knowledge that rain can disturb the game any time in England.

The first day of the much-anticipated final of the ICC World Test Championship was abandoned without a ball being bowled.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The first day of the much-anticipated final of the ICC World Test Championship was abandoned without a ball being bowled. It was a real dampener because knowing the fickle weather in England, to have the final there was not the smartest call at all. Yes, there weren’t many other countries where the match could have been played in June apart from England. Still, playing in England is always chancy even if it’s in their summer.

The original venue was supposed to be the Lord’s Cricket Ground and since the ground has had this aura about it, it was thought that the first-ever final should be played there. The first ICC World Cup final was also played at Lord’s way back in 1975 and so perhaps it was decided to play the first-ever World Test Championship final also at Lord’s. However, as soon as it became clear that England was not going to qualify for the final the venue was changed to The Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

The rains stopped around for a bit around 2 p.m. The umpires went around and found that the outfield was wet and so decided to have another inspection at 3 p.m. But before that could happen, another steady drizzle made them abandon play for the day. The rain stopped just after 4 p.m. and then it stayed dry for pretty much the rest of the evening. The question, therefore, like a couple of years earlier during the ICC World Cup when also some matches were affected by rain, is why was the ground only partially covered and not fully covered, especially when it is common knowledge that rain can disturb the game any time in England. With the rain having stopped just after 4, if the ground had been fully covered there could have been more than an hour’s play possible in the evening.

RELATED|  WTC final preview: Kohli's well-balanced India takes on Williamson's spirited New Zealand

The sparse crowd, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions for entry — many of them had travelled a fair distance — could have seen some cricket instead of going back home disappointed. Sure, they will get a refund of their tickets but they did not want that. They wanted to see the top two Test teams in the world play against each other but that was not to be because the ground was not fully covered.

In the 2019 ICC World Cup, too, some games could have started earlier once the rain had stopped if the full ground was covered. There were a couple of games that were washed out, but who knows, if they had been played the results could well have changed the way the teams qualified for the knockout stage.

RELATED|  Gavaskar: Don't jump the gun, give India a chance to host the World T20

Despite this experience, there has been no effort made to rectify the situation and apart from Birmingham, there doesn’t seem to be another ground in England that has full covers. The followers of the game thus keep being denied the chance to see some cricket and not all of them can come another day. Cricket thus is not helping itself get more followers or even get newer ones by not giving them any action to watch. We in India often get accused of not criticising the BCCI because we are contracted to the Board TV production unit for doing TV. But here no former English cricketer has ever queried the ECB as to why grounds are not fully covered thereby depriving paying spectators of getting to see some cricket because the outfield is wet. And, yes, they are working for an independent TV company and not contracted to ECB.

The weather forecast for the rest of the match is also not very good so even though now the sixth day comes into play because more than six hours of play was lost on day one itself, this Ultimate Test could see limited action and the match could end in a draw.

The World Test Championship is a great idea and gives context to every Test match that is played because there are points to be made even from a dead rubber and those points could help in qualifying for the final.

Let’s hope lessons are learnt from this one so that the game goes on and spectators are given their due and money’s worth.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :