Scene 1: A damp morning awaits the World Cup Final. Play starts in the morning after a 2½ hour delay. The match is reduced to 38 overs a side even before a ball is bowled.
Scene 2: Chasing Australia's mammoth total of 281, Sanath Jayasuriya falls into the vicious trap of Duckworth Lewis. He eyes the rain clouds and senses that a rain interuption, possibly the last one, is round the corner. He desires to keep his team ahead. In trying to manufacture an ugly across-the-line swipe off the last ball of a Michael Clarke over he surrenders his wicket and sets Sri Lanka further back on the D/L chart after the loss of third wicket.
Scene 3: The 5th ball of the 25th over is bowled. Fairly dense droplets of rain are pouring for quite a while now. The pitch is getting mucky and the outfield / bowling run up gets more dangerous by the minute. However the batsmen Chamara Silva and skipper Jayawardene do not budge as that could mean the last of their team's hopes to win the cherished title. Umpires Steve Bucknor and Aleem Dar had hesitated on forcing a pause of play under the exceptional circumstances but now they decide enough is enough and call out for the covers.
Scene 4: The play resumes soon with two overs missing from the over quota available to Sri Lanka and the target reduced to 269. For the last few overs a couple of new-to-the-crease batsmen of a brave team making a valiant attempt to chase a steep target against the world's best side in the biggest and most watched cricket match of all have had the small additional worry of looking at the skies after every delivery as well as the 'parallel' scoreboard of M/s D/L for playing to two different game plans at the same time. One game plan is to win the game over the full distance, the other to stay ahead if rain interrupts the match.
All of this is actually taking place even though the tournament rules provide for a reserve day for EACH of the matches of the tournament. Unbelievable! When I first heard of the extra day during the group league matches I failed to appreciate the cricketing logic behind curtailing rain affected matches by more than 10 overs at any time earlier than the 2nd day. I still cannot reckon just how they could allow a final to be played under that same set of rules.
Perhaps remaining true to their ever-greedy selves that owe allegiance only to the telemedia & their sponsors, an all important group of entities that naturally want the matches to end on scheduled days, the rulemakers of International Cricket Council have decreed that:
(i) the reserve day is to be used "only if we have a match with any unfinished innings of less than 20 overs" for any of the sides; and that
(ii) the match starts afresh on the next day instead of the simple matter of completing an interrupted but full 50 over match over two separate days.
And who on earth would prefer that sort of painfully obnoxious enforcement of the word "one day" in "One Day Internationals" in exchange of a proper game of cricket? Who would refuse to even spare the Big Final that crap? Of course the self styled 'keepers of the game', the International Cricket Council.
As indicated in the previous mid-match post I had reckoned Sri Lanka to be overwhelmed by the concession of 30 odd extra runs to sublime big hitting skills of the Aussie wicketkeeper, runs that Adam Gilchrist had no business getting against a bowling side as good as the Lankans, runs that turned a potential nail biter into an expectedly one-sided affair barring an improbable 2nd miracle. However the speculation about the final margin - a fair one - is destined to remain just that as Sri Lanka, who unlike Australia had to suffer mid-innings downpours and consequently let a few crucial mid overs go by while they were helplessly torn between the two game plans, have been as badly hit by the ICC's rule makers as by that blinder from Adam Gilchrist.
Shame on you, ICC. Can you not just do us cricket lovers a favour by disappearing from the face of cricket? The game cannot seriously go on any worse by itself than it is doing at present under your central regime.
Update: These excerpts from cricinfo's text commentary sums the sad end to the people's World Cup aptly. Read on:
6.12pm The light's been offered and Sri Lanka have taken it - meaning Australia have won the World Cup again. They certainly deserve it and are huddling in celebration. A bit of a damp squib of an ending, which is of course fitting.
Now what's this? Aleem Dar is having a word with Australia, telling them they can't yet celebrate. Officially this match isn't over. You couldn't make it up. You don't have to.
And the farce continues! Now the stands for the ceremony have been brought on... and are off again, as the umpires shoo them away. My word.
6.17pm It's what is traditionally known as night. It is so dark but the umpires are now saying the match will continue. Heads should roll for this. The man is out putting the 30-yard circles back out. He needs a torch to do so. The batsmen are heading out to the middle accompanied by a guide dog.
6.30pm Congratulations to Australia who were the best team from the first match and maintained their relentlessly high standard throughout. Sri Lanka gave them a game but on the day came up just short.
There's a certain irony that cricket's four-yearly showcase ended in farce ... Australia, Sri Lanka, the Caribbean and millions of spectators deserved more but given what has gone before today, it was almost inevitable. You can spin it all you like, this tournament has not done the game any favours and people at the top, if they had any decency, would be contemplating their futures. But we all know that won't happen.
[cross posted on Desicritics]