Cricket’s US experiment in danger of turning sour

Source: ICC

First, it was 10:30am, then 11:30am, 12:30pm and 1:15pm . After four inspections, no decision was taken and then there was an announcement about lightning. So, despite there being no rain in Florida for four hours, the outfield wasn’t made ready for play. There are two possible explanations here: the groundsmen and women weren’t good enough. And two, the organisers should have covered the entire ground knowing full well that the drainage was bad. 

This is a World Cup, and the match had huge significance for Pakistan. For a change, imagine this was India, and something similar had happened. All night, millions would have been up in arms. And now, what will Pakistan say? Luck? Misfortune? Or organisational lapse? 

In a state where there is a chance of storms six months of the year, the organisers would have known that heavy rain would mean the ground would become unfit to play. And in the absence of a good drainage system, it could take hours before play could start. The solution was simple – spend a few thousand dollars, and cover the entire outfield. In a World Cup where milllions have been spent and millions earned from broadcast rights, why wasn’t the entire ground covered? 

Why was it that a game couldn’t happen despite there being no rain for more than four straight hours? Why is it that the fan will eternally be taken for granted? The fans who have spent money on tickets and travelled from different parts of the world deserve better. They needed to see a game, more so when there was no rain all morning in Florida. Instead, what they got was a lightning warning around 1:30pm local time. 

That was when you realised the fan just didn’t matter. You are committed to a sport which really doesn’t care. Just a few thousand dollars’ worth of efficiency could have made a game possible. It wasn’t planned properly, and hence we got what we got. And the USA went through to the Super Eights with Pakistan eliminated from the competition. 

Will Pakistan cry foul? Will they make an issue out of it? Would they feel hard done by? Or will they just stay silent and move on? 

Suffice to say, in New York, it was the pitch and the outfield. Poor by every yardstick. In Florida, it is the drainage. A game couldn’t even start when the rain stayed away. Let’s all agree that the US experiment with cricket is turning sour. And way too soon for anyone’s liking. And if you are a Pakistan fan, it is a long, hard road back from here. 

Babar Azam’s captaincy tenure could well be history, but what about the future of the tournament? Can the ICC salvage it with yet another washout looming when India play Canada on Saturday? With football’s Euros having started and the Copa America to follow next week, will the TV audience stay with cricket or will this US leg go down as an experiment that cost the sport a great deal? The jury is still out.

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