T20 World Cup - Why the weather might end up being the main World Cup winner?

With the T20 World Cup heading to its final stages, there are fears that the weather may be about to have a significant say in the tournament outcome.

It has already had an impact. Three of the four games scheduled for Lauderhill in Florida were abandoned because of rain without a ball being bowled.

And rain almost accounted for England's chances of defending their World Cup title. They were within minutes of their game with Namibia in Antigua being called off – a result that would have meant their elimination – before the clouds cleared sufficiently to allow for a reduced overs' game to be staged.

The English were already in a difficult position after their match with Scotland was abandoned after ten overs, meaning that they were already playing catch-up in their group.

Meanwhile, Pakistan might argue that they could still have qualified for the Super 8 stage of the tournament had not the USA-Ireland match not been a victim of the Florida rain.

While the weather cannot be controlled, it is possible to plan for it, something that the ICC needs to consider.


First, the decision to stage the T20 World Cup in June in the USA and the Caribbean must be questioned. That coincided with hurricane season in Florida and the beginning of the rainy season in the West Indies, facts that were known well in advance.

Whilst the ICC might argue that cricket's increasingly crowded calendar meant that there were few other dates to hold the tournament, having awarded the hosting rights to these two countries, the prevailing weather conditions should have been considered.

Poor value for money

Not only do abandoned or reduced matches spoil the spectacle, but they also offer poor value for money.

Some people have paid a lot of money to travel for these matches, taken time off work, or used up precious holiday time. It is hard to argue that their outlay of time and money is justified just to watch the rain come down. If they were from England or Ireland, they could have stayed at home to do that.

Even for those who have not had to travel, going to a cricket match can be expensive, with tickets often over US $200 each. That is a lot to spend without seeing a ball bowled in anger.

Similarly, the broadcasters have paid a lot of money for the rights to show matches, and major sponsors have committed a substantial chunk of their marketing budgets to this tournament.

Viewers will only watch a few minutes of commentators talking in the studio to fill in the absence of action before they turn over and watch something else. It can then be not easy to get their eyeballs back again.

The fact that the T20 World Cup overlaps this year with two major football tournaments makes the situation even worse.

The Euros in Germany and the Copa América in the USA will occur without any weather disruptions. That does not mean it does not rain in those countries at this time of year.

Already, a number of Euros games have been played in teeming rain, while a number of group matches in the Copa América will be played in the same state of Florida that struggled to successfully stage a T20 World Cup match.

Football, though, will get on with it.

Players are denied the chance

For some players, this might be their only chance to play at a major World Cup or tournament, and it isn't kind if their chance of glory is ended early by a quirk of climactic conditions. Even those regulars with their country at significant tournaments might retire without the major medals in their trophy cabinet that they feel they out to have won.

Cricket is different?

'Cricket lovers will argue that their sport is different and that it is unfair to compare the two.

However, unlike many years ago, when it was expected to play on uncovered pitches, all major surfaces are covered most of the time now, with thick tarpaulins designed to keep moisture off the middle.

While outfields are typically not covered, many international grounds now employ highly sophisticated drainage systems to help quickly dry damp surfaces.

Meanwhile, spectators and viewers get frustrated when the players come off for bad light, sometimes when conditions still seem perfectly playable.

There have even been instances when players have had to come off the field because the sunlight is too bright!

Reserve days

In some major tournaments, the ICC does make provision for major weather events by allowing reserve days—a date set aside, usually the following day—for the game to be replayed. However, these are usually just for the semi-finals and the final itself.

In the earlier stages of competitions, if the match is abandoned without any play possible, then the points are shared. 

However, if the game starts and a minimum number of overs is completed, then the Duckworth-Lweis-Stren methodology is used. This highly complex calculation attempts to measure scores at comparable stages of an innings and is beyond the grasp of the average layman.

Arguments against having reserve days earlier in the tournament include allowing additional travel stays for players and spectators and the desire to keep tournaments within a defined timeframe.

However, given that World Cups only occur every two years, there should be more flexibility regarding scheduling.

The weather forecast

The Super Eight are staged in Antigua, Barbados, Saint Lucia, and St Vincent. Whilst there has been minimal weather impact so far, the forecast is for things to get worse, especially in Barbados, which is due to stage the final, and Saint Lucia, which will host the final group match between India and Australia.

Whilst both teams should have qualified by then, that does not make the match a dead rubber. Both wins will want to top the group because, potentially, it means that they will have an easier semi-final.

Should the match not go ahead, the Net Run Rate will be used to determine the order of precedence, which will be based on their performance against the other two teams in the group, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. 

What happens if the rain wins?

If a semi-final gets rained off and the teams cannot complete the match on the reserve day, the side that finished better in their group will progress to the final.

If the final itself cannot be completed either, even after the reserve day, then the two finalists will share the trophy.

Whether anybody would deem that a successful outcome is open to question, the point about a major knock-out tournament is that it should have a conclusion, with one team emerging victorious at the end. Sharing it with somebody else takes the gloss off for players and fans.

And it also calls into question the value of the product itself. Cricket is not just in the sporting arena; it is also in the entertainment business. It competes for viewers and sponsors with myriad other sports and pastimes. If they cannot stage matches, they may lose some of their audience forever and never get them back.

The excuse that play is not possible because of rain becomes a thin one.

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