There was one fact that went all over Twitter and other social media platforms. And that was England won the 2019 ODI World Cup final without actually winning it, while the England Women’s team crashed out of the semi-finals in the ongoing Women's 2020 T20 World Cup without actually losing it.
Yes, these are two different contexts, two different sporting events and two different formats. One was played at full length and yet, things were tied in every place possible barring the boundary count, via which England won the 2019 ODI World Cup final. Here, in the Women's T20 World Cup, England never got a chance to get on the park as the rain had the last laugh in their game which ensured India progressed to the final by the virtue of finishing at the top of the table in Group A.
The question which arises is why wasn't there any reserve day? There’s been massive criticism and it’s become a huge talking point in world cricket. The second semi-final between Australia and South Africa saw 33 overs of action which was more than enough to get a result. However, if that would’ve been called off due to rain as well, the outrage would’ve been immense, if it already isn’t. After all, it’s women’s cricket powerhouse Australia in question and they hardly lose knockouts or any ICC tournaments for that matter. Or for a matter of fact, image the outrage if it was a men’s ICC global event?
Also see – IPL 2020 time table
There have been clarifications given that T20 tournaments are supposed to be short, sharp and fun. No one is questioning that but an ICC global tournament, irrespective of whether it is a men’s event or a women’s one, the knockouts need to have reserve days. With this Women’s T20 World Cup final being on Sunday, there were a couple of days in between to accommodate travel. There was the question about practice and the decision could’ve been left to the teams. Moreover, they are used to playing two games in three days. They would more than love to have a slightly tighter schedule than be knocked out.
Every team's captain who was in the semi-finals is hopeful for a change. But England can only hope and not turn back time with this semi-final. Yes, India deserve to be in the final as they’ve played some excellent cricket and topped their group. England deserve it too right? They’ve beaten India five times in T20 World Cups including the semi-final of the 2018 event.
Hence, England never had the chance to display their skills, and it’s heart-breaking for them to bow out like that, just like it was for New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup final when they never really lost that.
Well, nobody never really saw that coming and one could well say that the ICC could get away with that one with it happening in the rarest of occasions when even the Super Over is was also tied. Yes, the boundary count rule sounds ridiculous and it has been rightly scrapped.
But rain? It is something you can plan for when you look at the forecast. Yes, it’s logistical incorrect to change venues once they are planned but reserve days are something that could well help. Yes, there are possibilities of both days being washed out but then that would be a completely different scenario altogether, and two days of rain would really mean bad luck.
And this isn’t the first time it’s happening. In the 2013 Champions Trophy final, there was no reserve day either. Rain in Edgbaston kept the teams inside the change rooms post the toss. The game was constantly extended beyond the cut-off to get in a game as it was the final. By hook or crook, each side played 20 overs and it was a thrilling game but the planning was questioned. Since then, there have been a reserve day for every final.
Even the semi-finals of the 2019 Men’s World Cup had reserve days. The India-New Zealand game needed it as well and it proved it be a fateful one. India would’ve made it to the final if there wasn’t one. Who knows we wouldn’t have got the final we all remember even today (taking nothing away from India)? Even back then, if it had rained in the England-Australia semi-final and the reserve day would’ve been used, there would’ve been just one day gap between the finals as well, just like it is here.
The ICC has a habit of rectifying mistakes post a huge outrage and when things take drastic turns. Be it Super Overs, playing conditions on reserve days (remember 2002 Champions Trophy final when Sri Lanka batted twice on both days but India barely did?) or the rain.
Well, they could be excused for the Super Over rule but rain was something they should’ve taken into account, especially for the semi-finals. They have even changed the minimum playing conditions for T20I knockouts where each side needs to get in 10 overs. That may sound fair with five-over a side too short a game to decide a better team. That is a debate for another day. The ICC needs to change it's habit. There are no reserve days for the Men's T20 World Cup later this year. It remains to be seen if that will change after what happened in this women's tournament.
While this Women’s T20 World Cup has been brilliant and will be remember for some excellent cricket, it’s a shame that rain will steal some spotlight at least, like the Super Over boundary count did in the 2019 World Cup final.Published 06 Mar 2020, 10:17 IST