As rain prevented play on the opening day at Lord’s, the lack of entertainment highlighted how there was an assumption of action. Cricket was scheduled: an outside element was needed to disrupt it. There was, however, no recommendation outside of internet chat rooms for Lord’s to invest in a roof despite the annoying disruption. Nick Hoult revealed last year that the Marylebone Cricket Club and the England and Wales Cricket Board are looking at such a course of action, but the underlying motive behind that interest is not exclusively Test cricket. Indeed, if you read Hoult’s report, he does not have multi-day cricket as the primary reason for seeking such protection against the weather:
If testing is successful it could prevent rain washing out play, a particular problem in England and one that could seriously undermine the new Twenty20 tournament in 2020.
Assumption of Action
Hoult was writing before it was known the aforementioned competition would not be a T20 league at all, to involve little consultation with those who pay to play and watch cricket in England and Wales. That was why there is no allusion to the Hundred in that sentence. In this case, however, that debate is irrelevant. Whether it involves T20 or its offshoots, the point is about perspective. Lose a day of Test cricket, and you have four others. Lose a day of T20 cricket, and you’ve lost the whole lot.
You’ve lost the captaincy of Dawid Malan, the pyrotechnics of Brendon McCullum, Nick Gubbins, the hitting of Eoin Morgan, the keeping of John Simpson, the adaptability of James Franklin, the all-round attributes of James Fuller, the variations of Mitchell McClenaghan, the leggies of Nathan Sowter and the strike rate of Steven Finn. And that’s just if you went for Middlesex in 2016. Sussex were not as strong, but they had Luke Wright, Chris Jordan, David Wiese, Danny Briggs, Ajmal Shehzad and Tymal Mills.
To be fair, that is the only instance of a T20 being abandoned without a ball being bowled at Lord’s. There have been two other abandonment matches, but both only happened after part or all of the first innings was played. It is not an exact comparison.
It is a task for another story to look deeper into the effect of the weather on T20s and Tests. But consider this: Tests abandoned without a ball bowled are so scarce that only seven Tests out of 2315 have suffered that fate. According to Cricinfo, 245 T20s (domestic and international) have been lost holus bolus.
Then again, if there’s always another day in Test cricket, there’s always another game on the T20 circuit. While the logic of the administrators is debatable, all boards are eager to flood the market. Innovations to prevent grounds being flooded are set to continue to go much further than that famous English ground.