'Absolute joke': Cricket world explodes over Test final 'disgrace'

·Sports Editor
·6-min read
Rain, pictured here ruining the start the ICC World Test Championship final.
Rain ruined the start the ICC World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand. (Photo by Gareth Copley-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

Cricket fans were left raging on Friday when the first day of the World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand was washed out without a ball being bowled.

After two years of qualifying and many more of planning, the showpiece event got off to a disastrous start as relentless rain hammered the Southampton Bowl.

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The morning session was quickly wiped out and while a small proportion of the limited 4000 crowd hung around in the hope of seeing some action as the day progressed, there was never any realistic hope of play.

The inevitable decision was made by umpires Michael Gough and Richard Illingworth at 2.48pm, with the players set to reconvene on Saturday morning.

While a standard Test match lasts a maximum of five days, this fixture can be extended into a sixth day should match referee Chris Broad decide that it is the only way to make-up time lost in the game to bad weather.

But Broad won't be called on to make such a decision until the fifth day, as the match could be over before then in any event.

Nevertheless, fans took aim at the ICC on Friday over the decision to host the showpiece event in England given the nature of their weather.

There was similar controversy at the 2019 World Cup in England when a record number of matches were abandoned without a ball being bowled.

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Virat Kohli questions validity of Test Championship final

The one-off match, worth AU$2.14 million to the winners and $1.07m to the runners-up, represents the culmination of a two-year program of series to crown a champion team in men's Test cricket.

India and New Zealand topped the qualifying table, with Australia narrowly missing out on the final in third spot.

The trophy and prize-money will be shared in the result of a draw.

India captain Virat Kohli has already questioned whether a one-off game could decide the world's best Test side.

"If you're talking about Test cricket and deciding who is the best team in the world on one game over a period of five days, that is not the reality of the truth," he said on Thursday.

Spectators, pictured here leaving the ground after play was abandoned.
Play was abandoned on the opening day of the World Test Championship final in Southampton, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

“It is not going to reflect anything for people who really understand the game and who know exactly what has gone on over the last four or five years and how the teams have fared.

“If you win this game, cricket does not stop for us. If you lose this game, cricket does not stop for us. Our processes and mindset is what matters most to us.

“For me, this is another Test match that has to be played.”

However Kohli did concede the new structure represented an advance for Test cricket at a time when many fear for its future.

“For me it has been a very positive step in the right direction. You know that every series you are playing and competing for something," he added.

“There is no room for complacency or just playing out an easy draw. If you can go for the points you go for the points. It is a step forward for Test cricket.”

The first day of the ICC World Test Championship final, pictured here being abandoned without a ball being bowled.
The first day of the ICC World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand was abandoned without a ball being bowled. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

India named their team on Thursday, with the pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami as well as spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja all included in the same Test XI for the first time.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, recovered from an elbow injury that saw him miss the Blackcaps' series-clinching win over England at Edgbaston last week, said he would delay announcing his side until the toss.

India too could yet change their side, as teams don't have to be confirmed until the toss takes place.

with agencies

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