Women's Sport: ICC’s embarrassing lack of foresight costs England in T20 heartbreak

England’s hopes of reclaiming the World T20 ended in farce yesterday morning as they were eliminated at the semi-final stage without a ball being bowled.

Losing a game that didn’t take place is a frankly absurd way for the tournament to end for Heather Knight’s team, yet the image of their forlorn faces sat in the pavilion as the deluge fell had a decidedly English feel. The persistent rain rendered conditions unplayable with India qualifying for Sunday’s showpiece by virtue of topping their group, a feat England failed to manage after losing their opening game of the tournament to South Africa.

Heather Knight’s side certainly grew into this World Cup. Following their disappointing performance against the Proteas (that eventually cost them), England beat Thailand, Pakistan and the West Indies convincingly, to reinforce their status as genuine contenders for the T20 crown. Despite the obvious sense of injustice worn upon the face of Knight in the post-semi-final press conference, she has had a tournament to remember: averaging 64, becoming the first English cricketer to score hundreds in every format and sitting second in the competition’s run-scoring table behind Nat Sciver.

However, really, none of that will matter. It won’t matter to her. It won’t matter to the players. It won’t matter to anyone who believed, as so many did, that England could win this tournament Down-Under.

And it is the ICC who must carry the can for this collective frustration. The average number of days in which rain falls in Sydney during the month of March is 13.6 – almost half. Such is the prevalence of poor weather in the city during March, Australia haven’t scheduled an international to be played there since 1985, with the exception of major tournaments which pose unique logistical challenges.

Even if one excepts the flimsy argument that the T20 World Cup creates significant organisational problems and there are scant alternatives to playing the semi-finals at the SCG in March, surely it becomes inescapably obvious that reserve days must be scheduled in the highly plausible scenario that the games have to be abandoned for rain? Cricket Australia know not to play internationals at Sydney in March, the ICC therefore have no excuse for failing to account for this eventuality. Such an elementary lack of foresight is a stain on the organisation and taints what has otherwise been a great tournament.

Following embarrassing gaffs in large corporations, heads usually roll. Somehow, I doubt that will happen at the ICC.

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