ICC Champions Trophy 2013
Comment by John Pennington
Last week I wrote about teams filling holes (effectively or not) as the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 got underway. This week the tournament has excited and frustrated in equal measure.
We have seen some breathtaking tight finishes, wonderful individual performances but the last few days have been marred by bad weather.
The Australia-New Zealand match was abandoned, West Indies effectively missed qualifying for the semi-finals by one ball as the rain came down at the wrong time for them and the India-Pakistan match was the worst game between those two sides I have ever witnessed thanks to four interruptions in all.
Cricket is unlike many other sports in being so reliant on good weather to get going. Footballers, rugby players, even athletes will continue through the rain, while I have played hockey in sleet and snow.
Let's not beat up on England, though. It isn't fair to blame the scheduling and host country entirely as nearly every tournament ever played has seen its fair share of rain.
The 2011 World Cup saw matches abandoned due to rain, as did the ICC World Twenty20 last year in Sri Lanka. Even the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 in the Caribbean was hit, although not as badly as this tournament has been.
The need for the Champions Trophy to be a short, sharp tournament pitting the best teams against each other at as few venues as possible has presumably prevented reserve days being built in to the schedule.
It wouldn't do, for example, to have two games on one day, in this era of television-dominated schedules, so games must be finished on the day.
The Duckworth/Lewis method has come in for some criticism but the one thing about it is that, even if it is perceived to favour teams batting second, it is a constant. Everybody knows where they stand, scoreboards have been adapted to show the players exactly where they need to be, and it has been around long enough for the players and coaches to understand its application.
Just as a player will occasionally leave a ball that knocks out his off stump, so too will a captain or a coach misread the rules and end up looking silly. C'est la vie. Stuff happens.
Perhaps teams should be allowed to change their line-ups if a game is reduced. This makes some sense, as, for example, a 30-over game is much closer to a Twenty20 than an ODI and most teams would select differently if they had the chance.
It's a shame that much of the online buzz at the moment is concerning rain delays, the lack of reserve days and scheduling. Kumar Sangakkara's brilliant century against England, Shikhar Dhawan's golden run of form and the drama of the South Africa-West Indies match ought to be taking centre-stage.
At least the rain has, for a few hours at least, taken the heat of England, who have also been accused of ball tampering on the pretty flimsy evidence that they reversed the ball on a dry day against Australia and then weren't able to do so against Sri Lanka when one of the balls were changed.
Balls go out of shape. If the umpires changed it due to something England were illegally doing to it, they would have penalised them five runs and we'd be hearing a lot more about it from official sources. As it is, allegations are being met with staunch defences of their conduct by coach Ashley Giles as well as his players and the shine is being taken off what has in the main been a wonderful tournament by something other than the cricket.
Every team worth its salt tries to 'manipulate' the ball by bowling cross-seam deliveries and throwing the ball in on the bounce. Some are better at it than others, but there is evidently a fine line between manipulation and cheating.
It was ever thus.
And we haven't even mentioned David Warner. On and off the field, this has indeed been an eventful tournament.
What do you think? Will this tournament be remembered for the fine on-field action between the world's best teams or for the rain delays, accusations of foul play and other controversies? Drop us a comment below or tweet us @Cricket_World
© Cricket World 2013