Australia vs England – leave match
Australia and England each took a point from their Group 1 match at the T20 World Cup after a wet, unsafe outfield resulted in their match being abandoned in the MCG. Both teams now have three points, after a win and a loss apiece in their first two games.
As a result, Friday’s match between these two longtime rivals was billed as a “loser gets out” meeting. Unfortunately, after rain all day and occasional rain in the evening, the umpires finally decided to pull out at 8:49 PM local time. Although well ahead of the cut-off time, with the possibility of a five-over game provided play started at 10:04 PM, there was no chance the ground would have dried in time given the cold evening conditions, with especially the run-up of the bowlers who were a particular cause for concern.
The torrential rains of recent days in Melbourne meant that both sides came in on Friday knowing that rain would play a part. The first match of the day, between Afghanistan and Ireland, was also abandoned without a coin toss, so it was no surprise that this match went the same way.
“The outfield has gotten wet in recent weeks, as wet as I’ve ever seen it,” said Australia captain Aaron Finch. “The run-up and around the circle were very, very wet. It’s about player safety. We recently saw one of the Zimbabweans go down (Richard Ngarava). a real problem.”
An inspection at 7.30pm local time – 30 minutes after the scheduled start – came and went, with all but the plaza cover in place as the clouds held for a moment. However, surface water remained a concern with the drainage system and super-soppers working overtime.
An inspection at 8.15pm gave way to one at 8.50pm. But before the latter happened, another rainstorm forced the umpires to call the game, sending the 30,000 supporters who braved the elements on their way.
“Everyone was here to play, everyone was ready to go,” Finch added. “And there was a great turnout. It was disappointing not to go further, but just the amount of rain that Melbourne and the east coast of Australia have had in recent weeks is amazing.”
As it stands, England rise to second in the Group 1 standings thanks to their net run rate of +0.239, ahead of Ireland (who beat them on Wednesday) and Australia, who both also have three points.
However, they also have the toughest run-up of the teams who could now finish on seven points, with New Zealand coming in Brisbane on Tuesday (where further rain is forecast) followed by Sri Lanka the following Saturday. While two wins would probably be enough to push England through to the semi-finals, Australia still have games ahead of them against Ireland and Afghanistan in which they can improve their net run rate of -1,555.
New Zealand, meanwhile, can afford to lose to England and still qualify if they can beat Sri Lanka and Ireland in their other two matches. Ireland itself and Afghanistan are also still firmly in the running for the knockouts, with one point between all six teams.
Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo