DHARAMSALA, India — As Australia captain Steve Smith greeted the press for the first time in Dharamsala on Thursday, the sky was grey, suggesting another potential downpour after two days of sunshine.
It poses a frustrating prospect of yet more play being affected by rain here in Himachal Pradesh, with two of the World T20 qualifiers washed out already and two more ending up reduced over affairs.
“A few different things could change with a shortened game so we’re going to have to wait and see what happens tomorrow,” said Smith, who produced a series of matter-of-fact replies to each question.
“I think you have to have something in mind. I think you do have to have a few different game plans if the game is a little shorter.
“You can’t control the weather, that’s just part of the game and you just have to adapt to whatever happens. We might not bowl a ball. You can’t control that, you just have to go out and do what you can. If it’s a five-over game then we’ll be doing our best to win that as well.”
That that word ‘adapt’ is one that the ICC were all too familiar with during the qualifiers, and the tournament’s organisers will no doubt be praying to the weather gods ahead of Dharamsala’s first match of the Super 10s.
Adaptation becomes a greater necessity in these situations, when a no-result, loss of net run-rate or a reduced match can leave a lasting impact on the qualification hopes of a nation.
Yes, weather is a part of cricket but fans and players are left seriously short changed by a lack of alternative options.
There is just one reserve day in place for the World T20 – for the final, should the weather have its say.
After Netherlands vs Oman and Ireland vs Bangladesh were washed out during the qualifiers, the following day was largely dry – the conditions combined with the superb groundstaff here meant play would have no doubt been possible.
Scheduling is not an issue either with each team given at least a day’s break before their next match, and those with just a day separating their fixtures are not required to travel to another ground.
The main issue is of course a monetary one. If a match was to roll over to a second day then there would be a clash with other fixtures and therefore TV coverage, doubtless a determining factor for the lack of reserve days.
However, only once would a ground be in use the next day, if Sri Lanka vs West Indies had to be shifted to play at 3pm before Australia and Bangladesh on March 21 in Bangalore. On that day there is just the one game being played in the tournament so it would not clash with another match.
Should this match in Dharamsala be washed out, Australia have three days until facing Bangladesh, while New Zealand will wait four before playing Pakistan.
The Aussies’ trip is, for mere mortals, a six-hour flight requiring a connection in Delhi, but for an international cricket team on a private plane it would be much shorter.
For the Kiwis it is a short trip to Mohali.
If teams were to end up heading home after just a few hours of cricket like Netherlands and Ireland, or were to miss out on a place in the semi-finals by the single point that separates a no-result and a win, they would be rightly fuming.
As would fans and officials in India who are banking on these matches to provide tourism and income across the states.
For Himachal Pradesh, if the weather takes hold as forecast they would then be left without a Super 10s match and this stadium, so praised by everyone who walks through the gates, would be denied the cricket it needs to validate its position in the world.
Smith’s attitude was very much c’est la vie in his opening media outing, but the ICC cannot share that approach for much longer if they have a true desire to deliver a full tournament.
Unfortunately, as we’ve seen with the handling of the associates, that doesn’t seem to be their primary concern; TV rights and the accompanying money continues to be a higher priority than producing a sporting spectacle with a level playing field.